Former Republican Governor Scott McCallum has refused to answer reporter’s direct questions about his suspicious appointment of Michael Gableman as Burnett County judge. Instead he decided to speak through a Gableman campaign press release. In the statement, McCallum admitted that he manipulated the judicial appointment process established by his own executive orders. In doing so, he appointed donor, fundraiser, and Republican Party official Michael Gableman to the Burnett County bench.
In the Gableman campaign release, McCallum said that ‘[A]s governor, the final decision to appoint a judge was mine alone’¦’ With the Gableman appointment, McCallum ignored his own executive orders requiring a Judicial Advisory Panel to screen potential nominees and forward finalists to him for consideration. Gableman was never a part of this formal process, established by McCallum himself. Why are there no state documents showing that Gableman formally applied for the job, that he was ever interviewed for the job, or that he ever answered the extensive questions designed to indicate his qualifications and competence to have the job? It seems that the only qualifications needed was that he was a partisan donor and the only relevant competence considered was his ability to throw a fundraiser.
OWN’s investigation has shown that Michael Gableman was allowed to avoid the arduous process that the McCallum Administration itself required. He was allowed to leapfrog over six candidates, including the two local finalists. One of the two finalists only found out about Gableman being appointed through the media. In the August 21, 2002 issue of the Burnett County Sentinel, neighboring District Attorney Mark Biller was quoted as saying the following:
’It (McCallum’s appointment) absolutely comes out of the blue. I’m very disappointed the way this whole thing was handled. [Ken and I] have both stood watch in our respective counties and I think we could have had the courtesy of hearing first-hand from the Governor about his decision.’ Biller concluded saying, ‘To me, that is unconscionable. I think both counties (Polk and Burnett) were essentially snubbed.’
Apparently McCallum was not concerned with snubbing long-time local DA’s that took all of the required steps. Apparently McCallum was not even concerned with his own rules that were supposed to diligently guide the process. Apparently his only concern was to appoint a donor, a fundraiser, and Republican official. McCallum apparently was determined to find a crony, even if he had to reach nearly 300 miles across the entire state to do so.