Vt. lawmakers sue governor over interim ed secretary appointment

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Two Democratic lawmakers are suing Governor Phil Scott over the appointment of Zoie Saunders as interim education secretary.

The governor made the appointment this spring after a nearly year-long vacancy for the education agency’s top job. But the Senate, citing concerns about Saunders’ background and qualifications, voted in April 19 to 9 to reject her confirmation. Moments later the governor appointed Saunders interim secretary.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday morning in Washington County Court, Senators Tanya Vyhovsky, P/D-Chittenden County, and Dick McCormack, D-Windsor County, allege the governor circumvented the Vermont Constitution.

“For me, there’s nothing less political than trying to protect our democracy and our constitution. Regardless of what letter we put after our name, we should be on team democracy, and that’s what this is about to me,“ Vyhovsky said.

In response, Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said in a statement that the lawsuit is a distraction from the 14 percent property tax increase lawmakers passed. “This is another example of legislators focusing more on partisan political maneuvering than the hard work to help schools, kids, and taxpayers.”

There’s no word yet on when a judge could hear this case.