A Cut-Rate Parasite (Gwen Moritz Editor's Note)

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, May. 27, 2013 12:00 am  

“Are you enough of a businessman to appreciate an offer of 100,000 francs?” — Victor Lazlo

“I appreciate it, but I don’t accept it.” — Rick Blaine

I’m not excusing Shoffner. Not at all. She knew the salary when she ran for treasurer, and even $54,000 a year is nothing close to poverty for a single woman who is old enough for Medicare. But it is an embarrassingly low salary for someone who is — or is supposed to be — the state’s chief investment officer.

As a lawyer acquaintance — wait, that’s from another movie — stated so elegantly in an email I’ve decided to sanitize: “All I can say is, you pay a chickenfeed salary, you get chickenfeed employees. … We deserve Martha Shoffner. We are so shortsighted as taxpayers we are willing to screw the elected officials and make them look elsewhere to survive.”

“Come to my office tomorrow morning. We’ll do everything businesslike.” — Capt. Renault

The penny-ante payoffs hidden in a pie box — a plot device straight out of “The Shawshank Redemption” — and the allegation that Shoffner had actually accepted payoffs from CHS1 at the state Capitol grabbed the public’s attention last week. But there’s a point that I’m not sure has been fully appreciated: Despite having been under investigation since early 2012, Shoffner had not retained a criminal attorney until after her arrest on May 18.

This alone makes me wonder if she is competent to stand trial.

Gwen Moritz is editor of Arkansas Business.



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