Gentner Drummond, Tim Gatz
(Mike Allen)

Much like the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Attorney General Gentner Drummond apparently cares about lanes. He cares so much that he issued a formal opinion telling ODOT director Tim Gatz that he needs to stay in one, and only one.

Like his predecessors in other gubernatorial administrations, Gatz was simultaneously serving in the director role at the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and as secretary of transportation in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s official Cabinet of advisors.

If we’re extending this metaphor, one might argue Gatz’s three jobs had him swerving all over the roads he was in charge of paving.

In response to Drummond’s opinion — which claimed violation of the dual office-holding provision of state statute — Gatz resigned from OTA and the Cabinet position. He was reappointed as ODOT director — pending Senate confirmation — because Drummond said he had actually vacated that position by accepting the others.

Stitt was miffed, and other agency directors serving as Cabinet secretaries responded by asking an Oklahoma County District Court judge to determine that state law does allow the governor to pick their Cabinet members from among state agency directors.

Even though the Legislature attempted to pass new, explicit exemptions for some of the Cabinet secretaries serving as agency heads, Stitt vetoed SB 1196, calling it “duplicative and unnecessary.” In his veto message, he even noted that Title 74, Section 10.3 already specifies that a Cabinet secretary “may be (…)  appointed as a cabinet Secretary from among the agency heads within the cabinet area.”

What will the judge decide? Who knows. Nothing can ever be easy in the state of Oklahoma, so this latest chug hole on the road to functional governance will surely grow with each passing rainstorm.

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