A few months ago no one would have thought anything about Rell’s Budget Director Robert Genuario sending out a memo raising “grave concerns” about the omnibus energy bill. Afterall it’s his job to advocate for the administration’s position.
But on Monday the move caught the eye of the Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who understands the fine line Genuario must walk as a judicial nominee and Rell’s chief budget negotiator.
Even though he’s just a nominee, he must follow the Code of Judicial Conduct, Lawlor said.
“No partisan activity and no testifying in favor or against legislation is allowed,” Lawlor said. “The letter he sent was more like direct lobbying.”
Lawlor said he understands the position Genuario is in, but he thinks the law on this is pretty “clear-cut.”
“I hope it’s not a willful violation,” Lawlor said adding that he likes and respects Genuario. Lawlor won’t be filing a complaint with the Judicial Review Council, but he said this is the second time he’s had to warn him about the code of conduct.
“I really don’t care at this point,” Genuario said as he left a budget meeting in the governor’s office. Rell’s administration declined further comment.
Rep. Gerald Fox, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, said he doesn’t know whether Genuario violated the code or not, but he impressed the Judiciary Committee during his nomination hearing.
“I know he’s gotta walk a fine line right now and I’m sure that’s challenging,” Fox said.
It’s still unclear at the moment whether the nine judicial nominees, including Genuario, will be nominated before the clock runs out at midnight, May 5.
Sen. President Donald Williams, who has said he doesn’t want the Judicial Branch budget and the nominees completed outside of the 2011 budget adjustment, said he “wouldn’t rule out solving all these issues before the end of session.”
Lawlor was a little less optimistic saying he thinks the clock will run out and the nine nominees will have to be appointed on an interim basis until March 2011, when a new governor will be in office to re-nominate them.