It's an extremely delicate line that state attorneys general navigate. On one hand they are the lawyer for the governor, but on the other, they are a constitutional officer free to come and go as they please.
And when it comes to the current A.G. Bill Schuette he has exercised the latter position sometimes much to chagrin of his main client, Gov. Rick Snyder.
Now you would never hear the governor say anything bad about the role that Ms. Schuette plays, but there are times that others would love to call him out, but they won't....at least not in public.
For example on the creation of Health Care Market places which the governor wanted yesterday. The ink was hardly dry on the U.S. Supreme court ruling legitimizing the president's Affordable Health Care act, when Mr. Schuette could hardly wait to call in the media to not only dump on the decision but dump on the governor's strategy to move forward with his legislation.
Here was the governor asking lawmakers to act now while his attorney was telling them don't. It was a total disconnect and one that did not go unnoticed by the governor's team.
First of all, the apparent thinking within the administration was that Mr. Schuette was taking a strickly political stance when the issue demanded he play more of a legal role. As co-chair of the Romney campaign in Michigan, this was not a tough choice for the camera-eager Mr. A.G. It was politics over policy which is the complete antithesis of how the governor operates.
In clear terms, the attorney general was told, "You should be representing us not picking a fight."
Despite the admonition, Mr. Schuette continued to hawk the issue from his political bully pulpit urging Republicans to sit on the governor's plan. Which they did while the governor was left to concede defeat on getting lawmakers to pass his bill.
The administration understands that Mr. Schuette, from time to time, wants to "carve out a position that is not related to his A.G. duties" given the conclusion that "he is always running for something." That was not meant as a compliment either.
There in lies a crystal clear difference between the governor and his attorney. Mr. Snyder is not plotting his next political job while Mr. Schuette has been doing that ever since he was elected first grade class president...if there is such a thing.
And as a result you get these disconnects that was again apparent on re-inventing Michigan Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Noticeably absent from the governor's news conference announcing the new plan, was Mr. Schuette. Not only was he left off the stage, but he confirms, "I was not at the table when it was drafted." Sure he was aware that talks were underway, but he was left out. Hum. Wonder why?
And to no ones surprise he announces he has "reservations" about the plan but this one appears to be based on his role as A.G. However you could also make the case that it is good politics for him to stand up for senior citizens health care rights which could help him when and if he runs for governor, which everybody in town knows he longs to do. So there he was again seemingly at odds with his boss.
The governor's office is not wasting a lot of time worrying about an A.G. who is sometimes free-lancing when it does not serve the governor's best interest. And nobody expects Mr. Schuette to run for governor in two years if Mr. Snyder runs again.
But if Mr. Snyder is out and lt. governor Brian Calley is in, Mr. Schuette might not be so differential.