OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the Oklahoma Governor’s Office are disputing the legality of an executive order. It involves agencies getting signed approval for purchases, but the state VA’s executive director is saying his agency shouldn’t have oversight from the governor.

An amended version of Executive Order 2019-13 by Governor Kevin Stitt says non-emergency purchases by agencies must be approved by his cabinet — this is for the sake of accountability with tax-payer dollars. 

Following the order, this would mean the state VA would need such purchases approved by Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs John Nash. But Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Joel Kintsel said they report to the Oklahoma Veterans Commission and not the governors office, citing Oklahoma Statutes Title 72, Sections 63.1 through 63.3 and Title 74 Section 10.3.

“This is not a lawful order,” he told KFOR. “There’s nothing in the constitution, the Oklahoma constitution or Oklahoma statutes that authorizes the governor to impose a requirement like this.”

Right now, Kintsel is seeking to make about $860,000 worth of purchases, including licensing for medical and financial software used in veterans centers.

“The law does not require us to seek the secretary’s signature,” Kintsel continued. “We’ve sent these expenditures on to Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services to be processed under the Central Purchasing Act, which is the actual law that governs state purchasing in Oklahoma, and it does not require the cabinet secretary signature.”

A spokesperson for Stitt sent KFOR a statement saying, “The executive order makes clear that cabinet secretary approval is required for non-emergency purchases only. The director has always had the authority to make emergency purchases.”

Kintsel said the purchases are not emergency.

The Governor’s spokesperson also said, “If [Kintsel] believes the EO is an overreach, he could always choose to not comply. Regardless, we would hope he is not neglecting his duty to provide for the basic functions of the agency to care for veterans.”

Kintsel assured that veterans remain in good care.

“They are,” he stressed. “It depends on whether or not everybody continues to obey the law from this point forward. The fact of the matter is, the Oklahoma Veterans Commission and certainly our staff at the agency are going to continue to take good care of our oklahoma veterans.”

The governor’s office emphasized that they offered to meet with the VA to discuss the expenses, but Kintsel told KFOR he does not plan to take the meeting.