Drummond says veterans panel appointments not allowed by law,
optimistic Legislature will resolve issues
OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 9, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond said today that while there are significant statutory deficiencies with recent appointments to the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, he is confident that state legislators will resolve the matter this legislative session by stripping the Governor of his autonomy over the panel.
At issue are efforts by Gov. Stitt to remove and replace three commission members.
State law requires that the commission consist of nine members, including a representative from six specified veterans’ groups.
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.
“This entire episode has been nothing short of a spectacle. It is unfortunate that the Governor has not followed the proper appointment process, and it is equally unfortunate that the executive director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs is acting irresponsibly and not in the best interests of veterans. It is wholly unacceptable that Oklahoma’s honorable veterans have been left without a functional commission.”
Drummond said the statute indicates an audit is only required every three years, upon or in anticipation of the expiration of a commissioner’s term. If a member is removed in a year prior to the statutory expiration of his or her term – as has been the case here – then the nominee must be selected from lists provided by the affected veterans’ organizations.
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,” he said. “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.”