OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Attorney for the Oklahoma Military Order of the Purple Heart told the media Thursday morning the lawsuit he filed details how Governor Kevin Stitt did not follow state statute when finding a replacement for the chairman of the Veterans Commission.

It asked a judge to “declare that Robert Allen Jr. is not qualified to hold the position of commissioner.”

Mark Hammons, the attorney representing the Purple Hearts, said state statute requires a service organization with a vacant seat to submit five nominees to the Governor for appointment, and the Governor then choses one for replacement.

However, the Governor’s office says it does not need to follow the recommendation process.

“The Military Order of the Purple Heart has not met its statutory responsibilities under the Oklahoma State Statutes and was therefore statutorily ineligible to submit a list of nominees to the governor,” said Kate Vesper, Governor Stitt’s Press Secretary.

The state law does provide a reason for Governor Stitt to not follow the recommendation process. An organization would have to fail to submit a performance and financial audit to the Secretary of State, the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, “on or before January 1st of the year in which the organization’s appointee’s term expires.”

Hammons pointed that line out and made a distinction as it relates to his client.

“The statute only requires that those audits be filed in the year in which the term of office expires,” said Hammons. “That would be 2023, not this year.”

He said if Van Schuyver was not fired, his original term was set to expire next year. That would give the MOPH the rest of this year to submit the audits.

The Governor’s office claims that Robert Allen Jr. is a lifetime member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and served two terms in Iraq.

Larry Van Schuyver, the State Commander of the MOPH, said that is not what he and the organization is disputing. Instead, he is questioning whether Allen will serve on behalf of veterans of Oklahoma or the Governor of Oklahoma.

“I don’t know who he is – never saw him. None of my chapters have saw him,” said Van Schuyver.

The concern from Van Schuyver is from his belief that Governor Kevin Stitt wants to privatize Veterans Homes, also known as Veterans Centers.

Carly Atchinson, the Governor’s Communications Director, said Friday that Governor Stitt “has never directed privatization and that argument is a smoke screen.”

“An Oklahoma Veterans Home is a long-term, skilled nursing care facility for Veterans that is operated by the State of Oklahoma,” according to the state’s website. There are seven homes statewide, with an eighth on the way in Sallisaw.

Van Schuyver said service organizations take the recommendation process seriously in order to have their voices heard. The Military Order of the Purple Heart objects to that plan and wants to know where Allen stands on the issue.

“Since we don’t know him, we object to him speaking for us,” said Van Schuyver.