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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Jerry Jackson: Ethics and our state office holders

  • Ethics problems plague Arkansas Democrats
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  • NEWS FLASH!  - Governor Beebe says Mike Ross has his backing for Arkansas governor come 2014.  What a shocking revelation.  With the sad group of Democrat state officers, Beebe thinks he may have found a candidate that has a ghost of a chance.  While Beebe watches his pathetic party disintegrate, he no doubt realizes Ross is perhaps electable as he votes Republican on most of the important issues.
                Our distinguished attorney general took himself out of the governor’s race due to his inability to control his male hormones.  He still considers himself a lucky fellow as so far no one has brought charges concerning his blatant actions as attorney general.  You see, in most states if an attorney general has an affair with another attorney who represents a party having a lawsuit against the state, which would in ethics 101 be a perfect example of conflict of interest. Some of my liberal friends would consider this to be old news so let’s discuss recent embarrassing episodes of Democrat office holders.
                Awaiting trial is the elected Treasurer of Arkansas, Democrat Martha Shoffner.  Although she cost the state several hundred thousand dollars, she wants us to believe the thousands of dollars delivered to her in pizza boxes by the broker who convinced her to take the bond losses was just a coincidence.  After all, shouldn’t a friend be allowed to give you money if he likes you?
                Just this spring Democrat Legislator Hallum was convicted of attempting to buy votes with chicken dinners, cheap liquor and a few miscellaneous gifts.  Although this might be common practice especially in southern Arkansas, it has to be embarrassing to get caught.  These Democrats have just got to find a way to be more discreet.  It would be beneficial for Dems to take a trip to Chicago and learn from the professionals.
                On August 17th it was revealed the Arkansas Ethics Panel found the Jonesboro Democrat, Paul Bookout, guilty of numerous misuses of campaign dollars and fined him $8,000.  This fine is the largest to be levied since the Commission started its operation in 1991.  Bookout said he will not appeal and will be reimbursing his campaign about
    49 thousand dollars.  He states he will then be repaying contributors pro-rata over the next 30 days.  Included in Bookout’s shopping spree was payment of $8,401 for home theater equipment, payment of $5,043 for women’s clothing and accessories, and
    Page 2 of 3 - Pro shop merchandise costing $1,306 from Ridgepoint Country Club.
                Mr. Bookout is not a hillbilly legislator from some small town who might not know all the ethics rules.  He was the Senator Pro tempore - the Chamber’s leader from 2011 to 2013.  We are now paying for 140 years of one-party Democrat rule.  People like Hallum, Shoffner and Bookout (add Attorney General McDaniel to the group) evidently believe they are above it all and the law and the rules really don’t apply to them.  After all, we are Democrats and who can challenge us?  Slowly but definitely some of them are learning the difficult way.
                Am I saying Democrats are the only ones guilty of missteps and Republicans are without wrong doing?  Absolutely not.  If you leave any party in office too long without challenge, power will be abused.
                Have you noted children who are in trouble believe their best defense is to say, “Well, Johnny did it too”?  Our governor is trying to raise such a ruckus in claiming that Secretary of State Martin violated state law by hiring outside attorneys without receiving permission from him or the attorney general.  In an attempt to put Martin in a “Johnny did it too” position, Beebe is comparing this dispute with the out and out criminal actions of his cohorts.  His feeble attempt was quoted in the August 14th Dem-Gaz.  He says, while complaining about Martin, “It’s like this Shoffner thing”.  Any rational person would conclude Martin’s hiring of outside attorneys to fulfill his obligation to his office comes nowhere close to actions of the trio mentioned above.  This trio attempted illegal and unethical financial gain.
                Perhaps just a troubling is our governor’s response to the failings of his fellow Democrats.  When the Shoffner mess first came to light, Beebe told us he was not going to get in the middle of that since she was elected by Arkansas voters.  Never mind her actions cost the taxpayers of Arkansas almost one half million dollars.
                His reply to the Bookout fiasco was similar.  The governor told us what Bookout did was wrong but remember, said the governor, he fessed up and accepted the responsibility.  As the head of state he did not call for Bookout’s resignation, saying it’s Bookout’s decision to make.  We deserve better leadership from the top.
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                After writing this column, I learned that Bookout changed his mind and abruptly resigned.  Note also that ultra-liberal columnist John Brummett chastised Beebe for not insisting Bookout resign pronto.
     
    (Jerry Jackson of Heber Springs writes his “conservative viewpoint” column each week)
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