Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Parson's appointment of Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe

A Cole County circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the appointment of Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe. (File)

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's apppointment of Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem released the order Wednesday, saying the lawsuit filed by Darrell Cope and the Missouri Democratic Party was dismissed with prejudice. Beetem ruled the only people who can seek a ruling that would eject an official from office are government attorneys, such as the attorney general or a county prosecutor. The plaintiffs changed their request at the last minute to a declaratory judgment, but Beetem said this meant asking the court for an advisory opinion, which it can't give.

“When I was sworn-in as lieutenant governor on June 18th, I pledged to Governor Parson and the people of Missouri that I would work to improve the state through infrastructure and work-force development," Kehoe said in a statement. "Since then, I have visited state departments throughout central Missouri, met with community and business leaders across the state, and begun the process of integrating myself with the numerous boards and commissions on which I will serve. I have consistently indicated I believe the governor has the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor, but I have also repeatedly said that I will abide by the court’s decision on this matter.

"I am grateful for, and agree with, Judge Beetem’s ruling and look forward to continuing to work on behalf of all Missourians."

The lieutenant governor's office became vacant on June 1 when then-Lt. Gov. Mike Parson became governor upon Eric Greitens' resignation. Parson appointed Kehoe lieutenant governor on June 18. According to the lieutenant governor's office, Kehoe is the second lieutenant governor ever to be appointed in state history.

Article 4, Section 4 of the Missouri Constitution gives the governor the authority to fill all vacancies in public offices "unless otherwise provided by law." State law lists several offices to which the governor cannot appoint people. The lieutenant governor's office is listed, but state law doesn't provide any other method for filling the office. Beetem ruled this lack of another remedy meant the governor has the authority fill the office.

To read the judgement, read the document below.

Parson released the following statement, approving of the ruling.

“We applaud the Court’s expedient decision to dismiss the plaintiffs’ case regarding the Governor’s appointment authority. This affirms our position as well as the position of previous Governors from both parties. We look forward to continuing our work with Lieutenant Governor Kehoe and also commend the work of Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office in effectively arguing the merits of this case on an important constitutional issue.”

The Missouri Democratic Party stated it believed Missourians deserve an opportunity to vote for a lieutenant governor, and that it is considering appealing the decision.

Editor's Note: The story has been updated with statements from Parson, Kehoe and the Missouri Democratic Party.

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