Mary Ann Akers of the Washington Post explains why President Bush’s recess appointment of Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium may break the law:
To fight the Fox appointment, Democrats are questioning the Bush administration’s plan to have Fox serve in a voluntary capacity — receiving no pay for his duties as ambassador. This is an important legal technicality, as federal law prohibits “payment of services” for certain recess appointments. However, if the recess appointee in question agrees that he or she will take an unpaid position and not sue the government at a later date for compensation, then the appointment can go forward, at least as the White House sees it. …
But here’s the rub that makes Democrats view Bush’s recess appointment of Fox as a major-league no-no: Federal law prohibits “voluntary service” in cases where the position in question has a fixed rate of pay, as an ambassadorship does. That’s how the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the Democratic-controlled Congress, interprets the law.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said today, “I intend to seek an opinion on the legality of this appointment from the General Accountability Office and invite other Senators to join with me in that request.”