|Charles R. Nesbitt|
Lame Duck Appointee Attempt:
Since 1990, the Republicans controlled the commission when they held 2 of the 3 seats. When Commissioner JC Watts was elected to congress in November of 1994, the lame duck governor, David Walters; sought to give the Democrats control of the Commission by appointing former state attorney general Charles Nesbitt as a temporary successor to JC Watts. Gov. Elect, Frank Keating intended to name Ed Apple to the temporary post. The case ended up being argued before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Oklahoma’s governor is sworn in a week after the US Congress swears in their members to a new term.The Daily Oklahoman recapped the drama this way…
A brief accompanying Nesbitt’s petition claims Watts’ commission seat “was vacant at the latest on Jan. 3, the date of commencement of the congressional term for which Commissioner Watts was elected,” thus allowing Walters to appoint a replacement. Watts says he did not officially resign his commission seat until Jan. 9, after Keating became governor and gained the right to appoint Apple.
“This is a political controversy,” Nesbitt charged. “The Republican Party undertook a power play. They did a real sloppy job of it, but it’s for the Supreme Court to decide whether it was effective enough,” he said.
Keating, Apple and Watts are Republicans, while Walters and Nesbitt, who served as energy secretary in Walters’ Cabinet, are Democrats.
Watts has said that partisan politics did not motivate him to delay his commission resignation. Watts said he announced months ago that if elected to Congress, he would remain on the commission until whoever was elected as the new governor could appoint his successor.
Watts and Commissioner Bob Anthony on Jan. 6 approved a resolution recognizing Keating’s appointee as the rightful new commissioner. Nesbitt said that resolution is “invalid” and “illegal. ” “As far as the corporation commission is concerned, Mr. Apple is our duly appointed commissioner,” commission General Administrator Jay Edwards said Tuesday. “Unless the courts turn that around, that’s the way we’ll continue to perform. ” Since being sworn in Jan. 9, Apple has been participating in commission hearings and voting on and signing orders along with Anthony and commission Chairman Cody Graves.