Arkansas Senator Suspended Over Baseless Charges

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) — Arkansas senators cannot access the Senate offices or participate in legislative sessions. sanctions He received it earlier this year.

The Republican Senate, which holds a majority, voted 26 to 4 to approve the Ethics Committee’s recommendation to suspend Republican Senator Alan Clarke for the remainder of the 93rd General Assembly, which ends Jan. 8. .

Earlier this month, the Senate dismissed a complaint Clark filed against Democratic Senator Stephanie Flowers, accusing her of improperly receiving per diem payments for a legislative session she attended via Zoom.

Ethics Committee rules Clark filed complaint in retaliation after Senate stripped He and another legislator in their leadership post after Clark asked for a refund for a meeting he did not attend.

Republican Senator Kim Hammer, chair of the Ethics Committee, said, “The committee believes that Senator Clark’s comments and actions, including the filing of these ethics petitions for retaliation purposes, are unacceptable to the Senate system.” I felt I was causing honor and confusion.” Senator before voting.

Clark did not attend Tuesday’s lawsuit. His lawyer was unable to attend, citing a long-planned trip with his family. .

Clark said, “If we can’t expose and oppose our own questionable behavior, how can we expect to fight government corruption and misconduct? Anything else.”

Rules adopted by the Senate during the coronavirus pandemic allowed members to participate remotely but did not receive per diem funding. was paid in August after realizing it had been received due to a clerical error.

The Ethics Committee noted Clarke’s comments posted on social media before filing the complaint and that he wore a scarlet “E” similar to the scarlet “A” worn as punishment for adultery in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I quoted a picture of Clark wearing a . party event after he was sanctioned by the Senate.

The vote came after nearly three hours of contentious debate, with Clark’s defenders criticizing the Senate for taking up ethical charges without Clark’s attendance. pointed out that other lawmakers had taken time out of the Senate process, despite their jobs and other obligations.

At one point, Republican Senator David Wallace, who voted for Clark’s suspension, complained of a lingering debate over the Senate’s ethics procedure.

“We’re tripping over rat droppings right now,” Wallace said.

The suspension will prevent Clarke from accessing Senate offices and resources (including e-mail accounts), and from attending legislative sessions, except for the organizing meeting of the next General Assembly. The Senate also voted to recommend to the next General Assembly that Clark lose his seniority.

The vote marks the first time a senator has been suspended under a 2018 overhaul of the Senate’s ethics rules enacted after several senators were involved in federal corruption investigations.

After suspending Clarke, the Senate also passed rules to require ethics complaints to be filed by at least three senators instead of one.