Edmondson responds to Keating's lawsuit over Cabinet position

Tuesday, November 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Frank Keating has more Cabinet positions than is legally allowed, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said in a lawsuit over creation of a new post.

Edmondson issued a legal opinion that struck down Keating's creation in May of a new position of Cabinet secretary of economic development and special affairs for Russell Perry, publisher of Oklahoma City's Black Chronicle.

Keating created the post after the Legislature adjourned and the state Senate didn't act on his nomination of Perry as Cabinet secretary of commerce.

Edmondson and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Tevington said in the opinion that a governor cannot create a new Cabinet position more than 45 days after taking office.

The issue went to Oklahoma County District Court.

In the governor's petition, Keating asked the court to block the attorney general's opinion, saying he had the authority to make changes in his Cabinet after the 45-day period.

On Monday, Edmondson and Tevington filed an answer to Keating's contention that he is permitted by law to create a position.

Besides creating Perry's Cabinet position too late, the governor has one more Cabinet post than the law authorizes, Edmondson and Tevington argued.

Oklahoma law states that governors' Cabinets must number between 10 and 15 secretaries. In his filing Monday, Edmondson said Keating had 15 Cabinet secretaries before his attempt to appoint Perry.

Perry would be the 16th, Edmondson said.

Even if the court should rule Keating had the authority to change the structure of his Cabinet after the 45-day period, Perry's appointment wouldn't stand because it would exceed the 15-secretary limit.

Oral arguments are scheduled to be made to District Judge Nancy Coats later this month.