OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The longtime chairman of the Veterans Commission was fired by Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday, and now legal action might be taken in response.
Larry Van Schuyver served on the commission for nine years. Last month, he was re-appointed as chairman.
But just two days after the primary election, he was fired by the governor, along with the co-chairman Pete Costilow.
“He thinks we’re a prop, and shame on him for the way he conducts business,” said Van Schuyver.
Van Schuyver claims it was political retaliation after he publicly supported Joel Kintsel for Governor.
Kintsel is the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans Commission is the controlling board of Veterans Affairs and determines who will be the executive director.
“He was always doing the right thing for veterans,” said Van Schuyver, talking about why he voted for Kintsel. “It was very easy for me as a veteran to give him my support.”
When questioned about the firing, the Governor’s office said:
“Both Mr. Costilow and Mr. Van Schuyer were appointed by Governor Stitt and served at the pleasure of the governor. We wish them the best in their next endeavor.”
Van Schuyver served in Iraq, where he was awarded a Purple Heart. He is now the State Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“We’re looking into our legal options,” said William Pierce, a lawyer and friend of Van Schuyver. “A veteran like Mr. Van Schuyver, that has given his blood, sweat and tears to this country, deserves to be treated better than how he was treated by this administration.”
No lawsuit has been filed yet. And Pierce said any case against the governor would seek civil penalties, not criminal charges.
When it comes to the timing of the firing – just two days after Stitt defeated Kintsel and two other Republican challengers – Pierce said there are ethical red flags.
“I think that is a substantial factor at looking at this for retaliation,” said Pierce.
Van Schuyver’s position will be filled by the governor. But the caveat, Stitt will need Van Schuyver’s assistance in picking a new chairman.
With Van Schuyver as state commander, he will gather a list of Purple Heart recommendations. Right now, he doesn’t think many people will want to serve under someone with little respect for independence.
“He doesn’t want anyone that will fight him even when he’s doing the wrong thing,” said Van Schuyver. “He wants you to agree with him, which leads to a lot of scandal.”
Van Schuyver mentioned the Swadley’s investigation and this week’s Commissioners of the Land Office investigation into its secretary as examples of Stitt only promoting “yes men.”
The former chairman said he will take the next couple of weeks to put together a lawsuit against Stitt.
“I’m going to have to let the dust settle and enjoy the 4th of July holiday, celebrate America’s freedom,” said Van Schuyver. “And then I’m going to war with the governor.”