At a press conference Friday, Dec. 19, Governor Pat Quinn appointed his budget director Jerry Stermer to serve as Illinois Comptroller until January 12, 2015. Stermer will retain the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s staff, ensuring continuity in the Comptroller’s office. Quinn made it clear that Stermer is a temporary placeholder until Bruce Rauner is inaugurated on January 12.
Gov. Quinn has also ordered the General Assembly to return to Springfield for a Jan. 8 special session to consider a 2016 election for state Comptroller. However, while the Governor can call lawmakers back, he cannot compel them to pursue any legislative action.
Senate and House Republican leaders said the Governor is seeking “a partisan and constitutionally-dubious eleventh hour law,” and pointed out that it would certainly face a costly and lengthy legal challenge. In a statement, they stressed that the Illinois Constitution requires the Governor-elect to appoint a new comptroller to a four-year term.
Earlier in the week, the Attorney General also found that to be the case, stating that while Quinn has the authority to choose a successor for the current unexpired term, upon taking office on Jan. 12, it will be Governor-elect Rauner's responsibility to name the comptroller for the four-year term Topinka was just elected to serve. While Madigan’s statement is not an official legal opinion, it carries with it the authority and legal expertise associated with the Attorney General’s office.
However, as part of her statement, Madigan also advocated for a 2016 election for the comptroller’s office.