Oklahoma governor and AG clash over tribal gaming compacts

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Image: Shutterstock / lev radin

A quartet of renegotiated tribal gaming compacts are at the heart of a conflict between Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and state Attorney General Gentner Drummond.

Drummond penned a letter to Stitt this week letting him know the AG’s office would be intervening in ongoing litigation between the states and a group of tribes including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. The tribes are suing the state after Stitt initiated renegotiated compacts with a quartet of smaller tribes back in 2019.

Stitt had tried to renegotiate with the larger tribes as well, but the courts sided with the tribes that their compacts had renewed automatically. The four smaller tribes moved forward with new compacts with better opportunities for gaming, triggering the larger tribes to respond.

Since then, Stitt has hired private law firms and spent over $600,000 on legal fees, according to Drummond. Drummond is now stepping in to represent the state’s interests in the suit.

Drummond said he was getting involved in the case with the backing of both Speaker of the House Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

In his letter, Drummond said Stitt knew his four new compacts were invalid because he did not act with the support of the state legislature. He also criticized Stitt’s impact on the state’s relationship with the tribes.

“Oklahoma’s relationship with our tribal partners has suffered greatly as a result of your divisive rhetoric and refusal to follow the law. The citizens you were elected to serve are the ones who suffer from this irresponsible approach. Instead of working in partnership with tribal leaders to enact compacts that benefit all four million Oklahomans, you insist on costly legal battles that only benefit the elite law firms you hire.”

Surprisingly, this is not a cross-party argument. Stitt, Treat, McCall, and Drummond are all Republicans, but there is increasing concern within the party that Stitt is causing irreparable damage to the lucrative state tribal gaming industry.