Judge suspends enforcement of Oklahoma’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act


An Oklahoma County District Court judge on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction against State Treasurer Todd Russ and his enforcement of a state boycott of financial firms because of their discrimination against the oil and gas industry.

District Judge Sheila Stinson granted the injunction in the lawsuit filed last November by state retiree Don Keenan, who is also a former President of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. He challenged the law and contended it was harmful to state pension systems.

In her decision, Judge Stinson stated, “The Court hereby grants temporary injunction against the enforcement of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022, based on Plaintiff’s claims of Violation of Exclusive Benefit and Vagueness. Temporary injunction is denied as to Plaintiff’s claims of Freedom of Speech and Special Law/Barrier to the Court. Defendant, his employees, agents, and successor in office are hereby temporarily enjoined from enforcing the provisions of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022 until and unless the Court orders otherwise.”

The decision drew an immediate reaction from Tim Hill, President of the Alliance for Prosperity & a Secure Retirement.

“The granting of a temporary restraining order to put the implementation of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Elimination Act on hold is a good first step. We believe a more thorough review by the courts will show this legislation harms Oklahoma retirees. The judge noted in her order: ‘The Court finds a substantial likelihood that this stated purpose of countering a “political agenda” is contrary to the retirement system’s constitutionally stated purpose. An attempt by the Treasurer or the Board to divest or transfer funds for any purpose other than the benefit of the members or beneficiaries is contrary to and a violation of Okla. Const. Art. 23, §12.’”

In his lawsuit, (CV-2-023-3021) Keenan argued the law that was approved by the legislature and enacted into law ien 2022 was a violation of the state constitution. He contended the constitution requires state managed pension systems to operate for the “exclusive benefit” of their beneficiaries. Keenan’s suit said in other words, “the funds may not be used for political warfare.”

In seeking the court injunction, the lawsuit charged, “Clearly, absent an injunction, pensioners like Mr. Keenan, will be left to wonder, not just whether they will have retirement funds left, but on what political agenda the funds were wasted on.”

Treasurer Russ had not commented about the injunction as of late Tuesday. He had attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed but as OK Energy Today recently reported, Judge Stinson ruled in February against him and refused to throw out the case.

The Treasurer in an earlier filing made in January 2024 said Keenan did not have legal standing and was not harmed by his enforcement of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Elimination Act.

He further asserted that regardless of the enforcement of the law by his office, Keenan still received a “fixed payment each month, and tdhe payments do not fluctuate with the value of the plan or because of the plan fudicuaries’ good or bad investment decisions.”

The Treasurer also claimed he cannnot and should not be sued because he had one obligation, that of creating the list of financial companies banned from state business.

“He plays no role in the remaining implementation or enforcement of the Act—it is the state government entities themselves, namely the retirement systems, that determine whether to apply one of the statutory exceptions—.”