Madigan: Rauner gets to appoint comptroller for full term

  • Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner can appoint a new state comptroller for a full term to succeed Judy Baar Topinka.

    Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner can appoint a new state comptroller for a full term to succeed Judy Baar Topinka. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/15/2014 4:52 PM

Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has the authority to appoint a new state comptroller to a full term next month, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday.

Gov. Pat Quinn, meanwhile, can appoint a temporary successor for the late Judy Baar Topinka until her current term runs out in mid-January.

 

Madigan offered the legal opinion Monday morning. Topinka died last week after winning re-election, raising questions about how the spot would be filled in both the short and long term.

Quinn's office responded briefly and gave no indication of his plans. "The governor appreciates the attorney general's counsel and is reviewing it," spokesman Grant Klinzman said.

Quinn has previously said his office may wait until after services for Topinka, which are scheduled for Wednesday, to make any announcements.

The state's comptroller signs checks issued by Illinois, so it's important to have someone in the position.

"Because Judy Baar Topinka was also the comptroller-elect, she will not be able to take the oath of office on Jan. 12, 2015," Madigan said in a statement. "As a result, on that date she will fail to qualify to serve as comptroller. At that time, the sitting governor -- current Gov.-elect Rauner -- will be authorized by the constitution to appoint a successor to hold the office."

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Rauner has called for Quinn to appoint longtime Topinka chief of staff Nancy Kimme to the post and praised Madigan's opinion. Top Republican lawmakers also agreed.

"There is now clear bipartisan agreement that the legal question is settled," Rauner said in a statement.

Madigan urged lawmakers to change state law and allow for a special election for the post in 2016. Lawmakers could return to Springfield to make such a change before a new class is sworn in next month.

Democrats control the Illinois House and Senate and could see benefit in holding an election for the post two years after a Rauner appointment rather than letting him fill a full four-year term.

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