Matt Campbell's Greatest Hits: A Timeline of the Blue Hog Report

Matt Campbell's Greatest Hits: A Timeline of the Blue Hog Report

Matt Campbell has broken a number of important stories that have led to resignations of public figures: Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, Circuit Judge Michael Maggio and interim Little Rock School Superintendent Dexter Suggs. (see Matt Campbell of the Blue Hog Report Keeps on Digging.)

But reporting done by other news outlets, particularly the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Arkansas Blog, has magnified the Blue Hog Report’s impact. One of the best examples of this synergy are reports on legislators’ expense reimbursements.

• March 31, 2010 — The Blue Hog Report goes live.

• June 3, 2010 — The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette notes Blue Hog for the first time, in an article about the attribution of a quote in a campaign ad in the 1st Congressional District race.

• Sept. 29, 2010 — Campbell turns his attention to then-state Rep. Mark Martin and his requests for expense reimbursements, alleging that Martin was using his home office, for which he was reimbursed by the state, in his campaign for secretary of state, a position he’d go on to win. A Martin spokesman said the reimbursements were for renting space to himself from a separate office. It’s one of many posts Campbell will make over the years about Martin. Max Brantley’s Arkansas Blog cites Campbell’s report in one of its first mentions of the Blue Hog Report.

• March 16, 2011 — Campbell reports the monthly billings to the state of 30 Arkansas House Republicans, ranging from $1,200 to $2,350, for the legislators to — essentially — rent their home offices to themselves, though they’re labeled “reimbursements.”

• March 18, 2011 — In a post headlined “Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant: A Look at Reimbursements,” Campbell notes that “salary padding under the guise of ‘reimbursements’ is about the only thing that has bi-partisan support, year in and year out; according to records requested by Blue Hog Report, only five legislators — four Democrats and one Republican — are not receiving statutory reimbursements this year.” And he lays out a case for why the reimbursements circumvented the intent of Amendment 70 to the state Constitution, approved by voters in 1992 and which sought to prevent expense abuse after the scandal involving state Attorney General Steve Clark in 1990.

• May 12, 2011 — Campbell reports that Martin’s office keeps no mileage and fuel logs on the office’s vehicles. He learned this after filing an Arkansas Freedom of Information Act request in an effort to determine whether the office had bought a vehicle for Martin or his chief of staff, Doug Matayo, to use to travel between their homes in northwest Arkansas and the Capitol in Little Rock.

• May 19, 2011 — The Democrat-Gazette confirms the lack of record-keeping at the Secretary of State’s Office, citing the Blue Hog Report.

• May 26, 2011 — The Arkansas Blog reports that the Arkansas Republican Party filed FOI requests for the employment, phone and email records of Campbell, then working at the state Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, and Jeff Woodmansee, co-founder of the Blue Hog Report and an employee at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law Library.

• May 27, 2011 —”An Arkansas political party is using the state Freedom of Information Act to delve into bloggers’ actions as state employees,” the Democrat-Gazette reports. “The enormous volume of opposition research being conducted by Mr. Campbell, along with the timing of certain blog and social-media posts, prompted the party to verify whether this partisan political behavior is occurring on the state dime,” state Republican Party spokesman Katherine Vasilos says. The paper says Campbell has decided to stop blogging.

• May 28, 2011 — The D-G reports that the only email given to the state GOP doesn’t indicate that Campbell or Woodmansee posted to the Blue Hog Report on state time.

• May 2011-May 2013 — The Blue Hog Report goes dark.

• Sept. 26, 2011 — The Arkansas Public Law Center files suit challenging legislators’ expense reimbursements as an illegal exaction.

• April 3, 2012 — A judge approves a settlement of the center’s suit that curtailed lawmakers’ reimbursements and required legislators to more thoroughly document expense reimbursement requests.

• May 6, 2013 — He’s baaaack! Campbell cites Facebook posts by Secretary of State Mark Martin from Prairie Grove, his home, as evidence that Martin was often absent from the Secretary of State’s Office in Little Rock.

• May 30, 2013 — Campbell criticizes Martin for spending more than $100,000 of state money on outside legal counsel, saying he’s the first secretary of state to hire outside lawyers.

• Aug. 20, 2013 — Campbell outlines problems with the campaign finance reports of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, then running for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District, highlighting meals and gasoline purchases classified as “fundraisers.” It’s the first of several posts about Darr’s use of campaign money for personal use.

• Aug. 23, 2013 — Darr acknowledges “some errors” on the reports and files a complaint against himself with the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Campbell also files a complaint against Darr with the Ethics Commission.

• Aug. 29, 2013 — Darr leaves the race for the GOP nomination for the 4th Congressional District.

• Sept. 6, 2013 — The Ethics Commission opens an investigation into Darr.

• Dec. 19, 2013 — The commission fines Darr $11,000 for, among other things, making personal use of almost $32,000 in campaign funds, and making personal use of $3,500 in expenses charged to a state credit card.

• Dec. 31, 2013 — Gov. Mike Beebe and other high-ranking Arkansas officials, including all five GOP members of the state’s congressional delegation, call on Darr to resign. A few days later talk of impeachment circulates among members of the Legislature.

• Jan. 10, 2014 — Darr says he’ll resign effective Feb. 1.

• March 3, 2014 — Campbell reports that Circuit Court Judge Mike Maggio of Conway, posting under the moniker of geauxjudge, commented about a confidential adoption proceeding involving actress Charlize Theron on a Louisiana State University chat board, a violation of judicial ethics. Maggio, a candidate for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, also posted a number of vulgar, racist, sexist and homophobic comments.

• March 3, 2014 —The state Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission announces that Maggio is under investigation.

• March 5, 2014 — Maggio, having acknowledged making the posts, withdraws from the Court of Appeals race.

• March 11, 2014 — The Blue Hog Report notes that Maggio heard an appeal to reduce a $5.2 million award in a lawsuit involving a nursing home death on July 8, 2013, the same day seven political action committees received donations from the nursing home’s owner, Michael Morton. Maggio reduced the award to $1 million, and those PACs later made donations to his Appeals Court campaign.

• March 17, 2014 — The JDDC opens a second investigation into Maggio.

• March 24, 2014 — The Arkansas Supreme Court relieves Maggio of all his cases.

• May 24, 2014 — The Democrat-Gazette reports that the FBI is investigating Maggio and the PAC donations.

• Aug. 6, 2014 — The state Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission announces that it and Maggio have agreed to sanctions that bar him from ever serving as a judge again in Arkansas.

• Sept. 11, 2014 — The state Supreme Court orders Maggio removed from his judicial office immediately.

• Jan. 9 — Maggio waives his right to be indicted by a grand jury and pleads guilty in U.S. District Court to a felony bribery charge related to Morton’s PAC contributions. (Morton has not been charged with any crime.)

• April 15 — Under a headline reading “About That Doctorate: Dexter Suggs, Plagiarist,” Campbell presents the dissertation of interim Little Rock School Superintendent Dexter Suggs side by side with the earlier dissertation of one Georganne Scott. Large portions of Suggs’ dissertation repeat word for word Scott’s dissertation.

• April 22 — Suggs resigns but receives a payout of nearly $250,000.