MDWFP commission shrinks to four

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

JACKSON — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commission shrunk from five commissioners to four commissioners Tuesday morning. The department updated its website to reflect that former Commissioner Leonard Bentz was no longer on the commission. 

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. 

The Mississippi Legislature voted to adjourn sine die Saturday before confirming Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Bentz to the commission. The adjournment means his appointment was not confirmed although he served in the position for the last eight months. 

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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. 

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. The Governor’s office has not responded to questions asking about the plans for Bentz or a replacement. 

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.