OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Attorney General has jumped into the fight between state veterans groups and Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Larry Van Schuyver served on the commission for nine years. Last June, he was re-appointed as chairman of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission.
However, he was fired by Gov. Stitt just two days after the primary election.
Van Schuyver claims it was political retaliation after he publicly supported Joel Kintsel over Gov. Stitt in the governor’s race.
Now new Attorney General Gentner Drummond says veterans panel appointments by the governor are not allowed by law and urges legislators to fix the issues.
Oklahoma state law requires that the commission consist of nine members, including a representative from six specified veterans’ groups.
AG Drummond says, Governor Stitt has not followed the lawfully ascribed process, claiming the veterans groups were ineligible to submit nominees because they had not complied with an audit requirement.
According to AG Drummond the statute indicates an audit is only required every three years, upon or in anticipation of the expiration of a commissioner’s term. AG Drummond added that state law precludes current commission members from being immediately removed because their successors were not properly appointed – nor have they been confirmed.
“As a combat veteran, I am deeply troubled that the proposed commission appointments have been made contrary to law,” Drummond says. “However, I am encouraged that our state Legislature appears poised to resolve this matter. As such, I believe it is prudent to resist litigation by this office, let the legislative process run its course and ultimately ensure the integrity of the Veterans Commission.”
Officials with Gov. Stitt’s office say they are not commenting on the case, but say they have been in contact with the AG’s office.
HB 1080 by Rep. Jay Steagall made it out committee and would strip the governor of appointing the entire board.
The legislation would restructure the way the board is constructed.
HB 1080 Highlights
- The Governor will name one member from the National Guard Association of Oklahoma and one at-large member
- The Lieutenant Governor will name one member from the Paralyzed Veterans of
- The Attorney General will name one member from the Veterans of Foreign Wars;
- The Labor Commissioner will name one member from the Disabled American Veterans
- The Speaker of the House will name one member from the Military Order of the Purple
Heart and one at-large member
- The President Pro Tempore of the Senate will name one member of the American Legionand one at-large member
The bill could now move to the House floor for consideration