State lawmakers reconsider, and this time, approve Dr. Joseph Acierno as the state Chief Medical Officer.
Acierno failed to get the 25 votes necessary for confirmation Tuesday, an extremely rare case of the legislature turning down a gubernatorial nominee.
Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha is critical of Acierno’s tenure in the Heineman Administration.
“My vote will continue to be ‘No’ not because I don’t like the governor and I don’t want him to succeed, but I don’t think Miss Phillips needs this anchor on her boat,” Krist tells colleagues during legislative floor debate.
Lawmakers have received assurance from the Ricketts Administration that new Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips will have a free hand to discipline Acierno, even to fire him if necessary.
Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue urges colleagues to vote for confirmation.
“I believe our concerns have been addressed, the shot across the bow has been executed,” Crawford says.
On Tuesday, legislators voted 22-15 to confirm Acierno, three votes short of the 25 needed for confirmation. After passing a reconsideration motion Wednesday, lawmakers voted 34-to-6 with eight legislators abstaining to confirm Acierno.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins expresses frustration about Acierno during his tenure in the Heineman Administration, even as he announces he will change his vote to ‘yes’ on confirmation.
“The man is arrogant,” Bloomfield says. “Hopefully, the vote that he received yesterday will tone that down a little bit.”
Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue tells colleagues he won’t change his vote against Acierno’s nomination.
“And I’m telling you colleagues, the experience of everyone in here with Dr. Acierno up to this point, how you think he’s going to change his spots just because we have a new administration and a new director of HHS, I think you’re sadly mistaken,” Garrett says.
Critics say Acierno has been arrogant and not responsive during his tenure, dating back to the Heineman Administration. Gov. Dave Heineman appointed Acierno in 2013. Gov. Pete Ricketts reappointed him in December.
Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion tells colleagues arrogance shouldn’t be the standard.
“I’ve heard that this nominee is arrogant, dismissive; well, that sounds like half of this body at times,” according to Kintner. “This body can be very arrogant at times. If that’s the standard, we’re in trouble.”