Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) released a much-anticipated opinion about the director’s position of the Arkansas Dept. of Higher Education.
The opinion was requested after GOP lawmakers questioned the legality of Gov. Mike Beebe’s recommendation that former State Sen. Shane Broadway (D) be appointed by the higher education board to the post. Broadway removed himself from consideration for the position on Friday citing his wife’s health and the stress of travel related to the job.
McDaniel said in his opinion, "I cannot resolve the group of questions asking me to specifically decide the case of the proposed appointment of Shane Broadway." McDaniel cited the office’s long-standing policy of not addressing hypothetical situations in opinion decisions.
"However, any person who fails to possess the statutory qualifications described above would be ineligible to serve as Director regardless of other factors, including the preference of the Board members or university presidents," the opinion stated. "If the leaders of the State’s higher education institutions feel that the statutory qualifications are no longer appropriate, then they are free to seek legislative changes. Short of that, no exceptions to the current framework reveal themselves."
State Reps. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) and Allen Kerr (R-Little Rock) originally asked for McDaniel’s opinion on whether or not Broadway met the legal requirements of Arkansas law to serve as director of the Department of Higher Education.
English said in a press release, "I thank Attorney General McDaniel for responding to the request made by Rep. Allen Kerr and myself. I further thank him for providing clarity to important statutory questions as the ADHE Coordinating Board moves forward in its search for a permanent director."
Kerr said in a phone interview with Talk Business, "The bottom line is I think the gist of the Attorney General’s opinion is that none of the qualifications were met, and obviously the board did not do a search process at all, therefore, that guideline was not followed."
"The Attorney General (office) did the very best they could to answer it in as gray an area as possible," he added. "But the search was not done and Mr. Broadway was not qualified for the position."