BOSTON — With Gov. Charlie Baker leaving for London and unable to help break a potential tie on the Governor's Council, the administration is weighing how to proceed with the confirmation process for Springfield prosecutor and Parole Board nominee Karen McCarthy.
The Governor's Council is set to vote on McCarthy's nomination Wednesday a week after a contentious hearing during which at least four of the eight councilors indicated they were likely to oppose confirmation.
The governor's selection of McCarthy to fill a vacancy on the board has sparked controversy due to her background as a career prosecutor and the belief among some on the council that the Parole Board has become too imbalanced toward law enforcement.
In the event of a tie vote on a judicial or Parole Board nominee, the lieutenant governor can be called upon to break the deadlock. But in order for that to happen the governor needs to be available to preside.
Baker will be in London for four days beginning Wednesday where he will be giving the keynote speech at an offshore wind conference, his administration announced on Monday night.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that McCarthy could be sworn in without the consent of the eight-member council if a vote does not take place within 30 days of her nomination, which was made on May 29.
Baker did not respond when he was asked about delaying the vote as he left an unrelated event in Medford on Tuesday morning, but Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the administration was considering its options.
"We're reviewing the schedule and agenda for tomorrow. There was a lot that we heard about from the hearing last week that we're sorting through and we'll be making a decision very soon," Polito said.
Any attempt to circumvent the council would likely cause an uproar among its publicly elected members.
If the council is evenly split on McCarthy's confirmation or a fifth councilor were to decide to vote against her, the nomination would fail. It's not clear, however, where the votes are, particularly after Baker on Monday renominated Charlene Bonner to the Parole Board more than a year after her five-year term expired.
Bonner is a forensic psychologist and addiction disorder specialist, and critics of McCarthy on the council have been agitating for months for Bonner to be renominated.
Baker on Monday did not address the timing of his decision to renominate Bonner just days before the scheduled vote on McCarthy and days after McCarthy's confirmation hearing made clear the deep divisions on the council.
"Charlene Bonner's been serving on the Parole Board for quite a while and, in fact, sits in a position that requires a certain set of skills, specific requirements to serve on the board. And I think based on the review of her work people felt it was appropriate to renominate her," the governor said.
Baker on Monday knew that he was going to be out of the country when he was asked about McCarthy's nomination, but his trip had not yet been publicly announced when he seemed to defer to the Governor's Council's judgment.
"I think she's eminently qualified to serve on the Parole Board and it's going to be up to the Governor's Council to make a decision about how they feel about it and that's why we have the process," Baker said.