OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Governor Kevin Stitt re-appointed State Superintendent Ryan Walters to hold a position in his cabinet as Secretary of Education in January.
The head of the Oklahoma Senate, Great Treat, asked the Oklahoma Attorney General if Walters could hold both offices at the same time.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond responded to Treat with a letter dated March 7 stating that he could not.
Walters was Secretary of Education prior to being elected as the State Superintendent in November. Walters’ re-appointment still needed to be confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate when Treat posed his question.
AG Drummond writes in the letter that he has had numerous conversations with legislators concerning Walters holding dual offices. The AG and his office confirmed, in researching the issue for applicable statues, case law and prior opinions, Walters is statutorily prohibited from serving in both capacities.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court identified (Oklahoma City v. Century Indemnity, Co.) three elements for determining whether a position is a public office.
Those elements, according to the AG’s press release, are as follows:
- the position was created or authorized by law;
- the law imposes certain definite duties upon the position holder; and
- the duties imposed involve “the exercise of some portion of “sovereign power.”
The AG’s office concluded that previous opinions issued by the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General have found that positions empowered to utilize their discretions to enter into or authorize contracts and incur expenses on behalf of the State wield “sovereign power.”
On Tuesday, Stitt removed Walter’s name for confirmation consideration and appointed Dr. Katherine Curry to the position.
She now faces the State Senate confirmation process.