Gov. Pete Ricketts says Dr. Joseph Acierno resigned as state Chief Medical Officer on his own, adding that he tried to get him to stay.
Ricketts tells reporters Acierno told him the bruising confirmation battle undermined his credibility with lawmakers, leading to his resignation on Friday afternoon.
“Very emotional time; obviously there’s a lot of stuff going on right there,” Ricketts says the of the confirmation process. “He was very committed to leaving on Friday.”
Acierno initially failed to get the votes for confirmation. Ricketts persuaded lawmakers to reconsider and he won confirmation the next day, though a number of legislators called Acierno arrogant and unresponsive. [See previous story.]
The failure of a high-profile nominee from a governor to win confirmation in the Unicameral is nearly unheard of.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha tells colleagues they should have stuck with the original vote and not confirmed Acierno. Chambers criticizes lawmakers who gave in to the governor’s intervention on behalf of Acierno, acting as if they needed to apologize for not confirming him.
“Some of you may have done 10 or 12 Our Fathers and 13 or 14 Hail Marys, but it was all for naught,” according to Chambers. “And the legislature looked foolish as should be the case.”
Gov. Dave Heineman appointed Acierno Chief Medical Officer in 2013. Ricketts reappointed him in December. Acierno had been Deputy Chief Medical Officer for about six years before being promoted to Chief Medical Officer. He was both an attorney and a physician.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]