Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Cry me a river, Kevin Stitt
Nothing's going the governor's way so it must be 'illegitimate?' Sorry, no.
Kevin Stitt is such a crybaby.
And given his response to the latest heaping of bad news delivered him by our overwhelmingly Republican state senate — calling it “illegitimate” — a would-be authoritarian, too.
It’s kind of amazing.
In December of 2020, 15 Oklahoma Republican state senators signed a letter urging Congress not to accept the results of the previous month’s presidential election.
Yet, Monday, when it came time to override a Stitt veto of a previously passed measure renewing tobacco tax compacts with the state as is, rather than hold them up and let the governor act unilaterally, only seven senators sided with him.
So many of them are just fine with the attempted authoritarianism of a soon to be thrice-indicted former president, but Kevin Stitt is a bridge too far.
The final vote was 34-7, easily passing the two-thirds requirement to override.
The house must override, too, but that shouldn’t be a problem because two weeks earlier it overrode another Stitt veto, one that would have ended the compact defining how the state and tribes divvy up motor vehicle licensing fees.
The vote on that one, allowing the existing compact to run through next year, was 82-13 … even while 23 house Republicans, back in December of 2020, signed their own letter urging Congress to throw out the presidential election.
Stitt, are you crazy.
The senate has overridden that veto, too, leaving the house to still take up the tobacco compact override, which it’s scheduled to Monday.
Perhaps we should be thankful.
Though not so much at the federal level, our Republican state senators and house members at least remain pro-democracy in Oklahoma.
Stitt reacted to Monday’s goings-on by releasing a tweet with a graphic in front of the state capitol dome with these words attached.
“Despite real concerns for the future of our state, the Senate has chosen to disregard the Governor’s compact in favor of compact language the tribes wanted. I am trying to protect eastern Oklahoma from turning into a reservation, and I’ve been working to ensure these compacts are the best deal for all four million Oklahomans. Unfortunately, the Senate seems to disagree and used an illegitimate process to do so.”
Let’s examine that.
At least one news source went looking for an explanation, Non Doc, which in a story under Tres Savage’s byline, included this:
“Asked what process used by the Senate was ‘illegitimate,’ a Stitt spokeswoman did not respond prior to publication of this article.”
They make it up as they go along.
But let’s think about it.
The ONLY way a veto override could be construed as illegitimate would be if the veto itself were also illegitimate; that the law plainly state such issues are for the governor alone, and once he makes the deal, it stands, period; no need to bring the legislature into it at all; thereby giving the governor even more power than a president to make treaties with other nations law; because, you may recall, even Bill Clinton and Al Gore had to sell NAFTA to Congress after getting the deal done.
But has that been Stitt’s assertion all along? Did he veto the extension of tribal compacts by the legislature under protest, claiming the legislature had no role to play in the first place? Are we waiting on court decisions to come down on all this to see if the legislature’s allowed to do what it’s just done?
We are not.
Instead, Stitt didn’t get his way; is a sore loser because he doesn’t respect the process in the first place; has been singularly corrupt on so many other things prior to this, so what’s one more shrimp on the barbie?
Oh, and because it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, that was just the beginning of the governor’s disastrous week.
• Tuesday, Attorney General Gentner Drummond formally entered the lawsuit senate president pro tem Greg Treat formally asked him to join, having to do with the state — Stitt — being sued for negotiating four different one-off compacts with four of the state’s smaller tribes, a state of affairs the Oklahoma Supreme Court has twice ruled not to be in accordance with state law.
To read all about it and the history of the case, NonDoc has you covered here, as does Drummond in a made-public letter to Stitt explaining his actions”
Here’s a piece:
“As you should fully understand, this long running and costly litigation is a direct result of your refusal to follow Oklahoma law. The four tribal gaming compacts you signed were invalid from the start because you did not have the approval or authorization from the Oklahoma legislature to enter the gaming compacts … Moreover, you knew that you lacked authority under Oklahoma law when you submitted these invalid compacts to the Secretary of the Interior in an attempt to sidestep the separation of powers enshrined in the Oklahoma Constitution. Yet, you continue to direct state resources to high-priced outside counsel in defense of these invalid compacts. I cannot allow this unlawful conduct to continue unchecked.”
Boom goes the dynamite.
• Also Tuesday, three months after Stitt brought in Katherine Curry to join his cabinet as education secretary, a move made necessary when it became clear Ryan Walters would not be re-confirmed upon becoming state superintendent, Curry resigned.
She plans to return to her teaching position at Oklahoma State.
“I valued my time working alongside [Stitt] and the rest of his cabinet,” Curry said, “but the complexity and political environment have led me to the conclusion that I can better serve Oklahoma’s students and future teachers by dedicating my time and energy to the classroom.”
Seems like everybody’s either disagreeing with him, convinced he breaks the law with abandon, cares nothing about the separation of powers, nor can he keep his people.
He can, though, cry about it, calling a veto override, a legislative action going back centuries, illegitimate, because everything’s supposed to go his way just because it is.