The Barack Obama administration is pulling a lot of people from the Senate. That has already caused some big headaches. Now it looks like the protracted and highly secretive process to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in New York may be violating state laws:

Governor David Paterson has disclosed next to nothing about how he’s selecting a new senator. And that’s the problem.

Keeping the questions posed to Senate hopefuls secret appears to violate the state’s post-Watergate freedom of information laws, according to Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, the state agency that regulates enforcement of the good-government laws.

“How could it not be public? It’s a blank form,” said Freeman, a lawyer who since 1976 has been the top state employee advising government and the public on interpretation of the public officers’ law.

The names of those under consideration also should be disclosed, Freeman said.

Keeping the names secret is bad enough as it prevents the kind of public vetting I believe is necessary to ensure an acceptable choice. Keeping the questionnaire secret borders on paranoid. What is Paterson’s fear? That releasing the questions may open him up to criticism?

With the mess in Illinois, the unnecessary secrecy in New York and the chicanery in Delaware, isn’t it time we start asking if our states need to revise the way we replace senators? I know statewide elections are costly, but the current system employed by the states seems tailor-made to promote corruption. Immediate direct election of vacated Senate seats seems the only way to prevent the shenanigans we’ve seen over the last two months.

Politics Secrecy Surrounds Clinton’s Senate Replacement