AR Briefly

Arkansas Senate reviews complaint from disciplined senator

By: - August 26, 2022 1:22 pm

The Senate Ethics Committee will take action next Thursday on a complaint that state Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, filed earlier this month against another senator.

The committee met Friday morning to review documents pertaining to the complaint filed Aug. 18. Chairman Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, sent the meeting into executive session immediately, so the substance and target of Clark’s complaint are not public information.

However, Hammer said before executive session that Friday’s meeting was solely for review purposes and the committee would not make any decisions about the complaint until the next meeting Sept. 1.

Rumors in State Capitol circles have been that the complaint might be targeting Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff.

Flowers is a member of the Ethics Committee, but she had been replaced on the committee for Friday’s proceedings by Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis.

Senate rules allow for a party’s top senator to replace a member of their party on the committee if that member is making the complaint or is the subject of the complaint.

The Arkansas Times first reported Ingram’s participation in the meeting on Thursday.

Investigations into ethics complaints have to start within 10 business days of receiving it, and the eight committee members had not seen the documents before Friday’s meeting, Hammer said.

Clark has voiced frustration on social media with the fact that the Senate disciplined him in July for trying to collect $155 in public funds as mileage and per diem reimbursement for a meeting he did not attend. He previously admitted to the Ethics Committee that he was not present at the Senate Boys State committee meeting June 3 due to illness, and he asked Sen. Mark Johnson, R-Ferndale, to sign him in so he could be reimbursed.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Ethics Committee’s recommendations to discipline both Clark and Johnson. Both were stripped of committee chairman and vice chairman posts, as well as their eligibility for per diem and mileage reimbursement for the rest of 2022. They were also formally reprimanded by the Senate, and future Senate presidents pro tempore are not allowed to consider either Clark or Johnson for appointment to serve on Boys State, Girls State or the Senate Ethics Committee.

Clark wrote a lengthy Facebook post Aug. 9 comparing himself to a “giant killer.”

“Expect people, especially in leadership, to be jealous,” Clark wrote. “Don’t forget to collect your earnings as agreed on in the contract.”

Clark was previously chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vice chairman of the Legislative Council Review Subcommittee, co-chairman of the Legislative Council Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee, and chairman of the Child Maltreatment Investigations Oversight Committee.

Johnson was previously vice chairman of the Joint Energy Committee, the Joint Budget Committee Claims Subcommittee, and the Legislative Council Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions Subcommittee.

He was also removed from the Ethics Committee and replaced by Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville.

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Tess Vrbin
Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri. A Midwesterner by birth, she graduated from the University of Missouri's journalism school in 2019.

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