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Oklahoma AG says transportation official can't hold three jobs at once

Tim Gatz, pictured at an Oklahoma Turnpike Authority meeting, can't hold three transportation posts at once, according to an Oklahoma Attorney General's opinion.
Carmen Forman
Oklahoma Voice
Tim Gatz, pictured at an Oklahoma Turnpike Authority meeting, can't hold three transportation posts at once, according to an Oklahoma Attorney General's opinion.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said Wednesday that transportation czar Tim Gatz cannot hold his three positions at the same time.

Following the opinion’s release, Gatz resigned his cabinet post.

Gatz served as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s transportation secretary. He also ran the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

As a result of the opinion, Gatz was deemed to be serving as transportation secretary after having vacated the ODOT and OTA posts.

Gatz resigned his cabinet post and was reappointed as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation executive director.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority must consider the appointment of a new director.

The opinion said the state Constitution prohibits dual office holding.

An individual can’t serve in all three posts at the same time, the opinion said. The prohibition against dual office holding has some exceptions.

“However, none of these exceptions apply to the secretary of transportation, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, or executive director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority,” Drummond said.

The office holder who takes a second office effectively vacates the original office, according to the opinion.

The opinion was requested by Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission in January voted to give Gatz a $60,000 pay raise, bringing his salary to $245,000 a year.

The opinion said actions taken by Gatz while holding all three offices are valid, binding and enforceable.

The opinion does not address the validity of Gatz’s actions after he received notice that he could not hold all three offices.

In response to a separate request by Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, Drummond affirmed the constitutionality of a recent law changing the appointment authority to the OTA.

Prior to House Bill 2263, the Governor made all six appointments to the OTA. The legislation lowered that to two appointments. It gave the House speaker and Senate president pro tem each two appointments.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Barbara Hoberock is a senior reporter with Oklahoma Voice. She began her career in journalism in 1989 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. She began with the Claremore Daily Progress and then started working in 1990 for the Tulsa World. She has covered the statehouse since 1994 and served as Tulsa World Capitol Bureau chief. She covers statewide elected officials, the legislature, agencies, state issues, appellate courts and elections.
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