Oklahoma Governor cabinet member resigns over Tribal Gaming Compact negotiations

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One of Governor Stitt’s cabinet is resigning over gaming compact negotiations with the Oklahoma Tribes.

On Monday, Oklahoma Secretary of Native American Affairs, Lisa J. Billy turned in her resignation to Gov. Stitt.

Secretary of Native American Affairs, Lisa J. Billy

Billy also currently serves in the Chickasaw Nation Legislature, a seat she has held since 2016She previously served in the Chickasaw Nation Legislature from 1996 to 2002.

Billy served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2016 representing District 42. During her time in the Legislature, Billy held various leadership roles including Floor Leader from 2014 to 2016, Deputy Whip from 2004 to 2008, and Vice-Chair of the Republican Caucus from 2006 to 2008.

This gubernatorial cabinet position was created by Gov. Stitt and Billy was the first to hold the position.

According to her resignation letter, she says she can no longer serve in the cabinet position.

“However, it has become increasingly clear you are committed to an unnecessary conflict that poses a real risk of lasting damage to the State-Tribal relationship and to our economy,” wrote Billy.  “You have dismissed advice and facts that show the peril of your chosen approach and have remained intent on breaking faith with the Tribes, both by refusing to engage with the compact’s language and, more recently, by suggesting you would displace our Tribal partners with private, out-of-state commercial gaming operators.”

You may remember Governor Stitt believes the Tribal Gaming Compacts expire at the end of the year and need to be re-negotiated.

The Tribes maintain they have met the criteria to have the Gaming Compacts auto-renew and if the governor would recognize this they would sit-down at the negotiating table.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Mike Hunter has stepped away from the negotiations. 

“Under Article VI, Section 8 of the Oklahoma Constitution and 74.0.S. S1221, the governor is given authority to enter into agreements with the federally recognized tribes. Accordingly, the attorney general and the governor have agreed to return the lead agency over tribal gaming compact negotiations to the Governor’s Office. This will allow the governor and his legal counsel to negotiate directly with tribes to hopefully develop a path forward.”

There hasn’t been a comment from the Governor’s office on the resignation.

Read the entire letter:

Billy_Gov Stitt letter of resignation (rev 2019-12-20)._

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