Senate does not confirm appointed MDWFP commissioner before adjournment

Published 12:00 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

JACKSON — The Mississippi Legislature voted to adjourn sine die Saturday with one more task to complete. The confirmation of Gov. Tate Reeves’s appointee Leonard Bentz to the MDWFP commission. 

Commissioner Leonard Bentz was appointed by the Govenor to a second term as commissioner from July 1 2023 to June 30, 2028. His appointment was not confirmed before the 2024 legislative session adjourned. Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commission chairman Sen. Neil Whaley has not responded to questions about Bentz’s confirmation.  

MDWFP Executive Director Lynn Posey said questions about the confirmation and status of Bentz falls on the Governor’s office.

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Based on Mississippi Code Section 7-1-35 and Attorney General opinions, when the senate fails to confirm an appointment the position becomes vacant once the legislature adjourns. The person who was not confirmed is not able to perform functions of the office and the Governor cannot fill the position until the next time the senate is in session to address appointments. 

Mississippi Code states previous action by an appointed official not confirmed by the senate is not affected. 

Bentz was cited for hunting turkeys over bait in April on a property where he was a guest. He is the only party involved in the case who has commented on what happened. 

MDWFP is scheduled to meet for the May commission meeting at the headquarters in Jackson on May 16, 2024 at 1 p.m. A Fallen Officers memorial will be held that morning at 10 a.m.

Check back for updates.