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Joint Aircraft Committee Holds Organizational Meeting

A joint legislative committee charged with examining the purchase and use of state aircraft, specifically by Governor Frank Keating, will hold its first formal meeting on Thursday, February 27.

"This will be strictly an organizational meeting," said Senator Billy Mickle, co-chair of the Special Committee on State Aircraft Policy.

The aircraft committee was created in January after numerous public reports about Governor Keating's use and the Department of Public Safety's purchase of the state airplane. Legislative leaders charged the 12-member, bipartisan committee with gathering all the facts surrounding the matter and drafting any law or policy changes it deems necessary.

"There are already some laws on the books pertaining to travel, the use of state property and purchasing. We need to take a close look to see whether those laws are sufficient or need to be modified," said Representative Bill Settle, committee co-chairman.

Although this will be the first formal meeting of the joint committee, some preliminary work has been done by its special counsel, former Attorney General Susan Loving. Loving was hired by House Speaker Loyd Benson and Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor in January to assist the committee in its fact-finding role. She is currently conducting interviews with people involved in the airplane matter.

Legislative staff members have also compiled a number of documents pertaining to the issue. Those will be distributed at the committee's Thursday organizational meeting.

"We want the members to have an opportunity to examine all of the facts gathered to date before the committee takes any substantive action on this issue," said Senator Mickle.

"We want to complete this inquiry in a timely manner and I'm confident we will as long as the affected parties cooperate with the committee," added Representative Settle.

Legislative leaders also requested inquiries by the State Attorney General and the State Auditor and Inspector. Those investigations are also underway.

Time: 9:00 A.M.
Date: Thursday, February 27, 1997
Place: Room 412-C, State Capitol