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A Matter Of Ethics (Editorial)

2 min read

It gives us no pleasure to highlight, on this Independence Day, behavior by two Arkansas state senators that does no one proud, least of all our founding fathers.

Last week, the Arkansas Senate Ethics Committee determined that Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, knowingly sought reimbursement from the taxpayers for attending a Boys State committee meeting that he didn’t actually attend, and that he asked another senator to sign Clark’s name on the sign-in sheet for the meeting.

The committee also found that Sen. Mark Johnson, R-Ferndale, signed in another senator as attending that meeting although he knew that senator hadn’t. Johnson later acknowledged it was Clark.

To put this in plainer terms: Clark sought money he hadn’t earned and Johnson lied. This is, unsurprisingly, a violation of Senate ethics rules. 

Clark is eligible for $215.84 in per diem and mileage for attending legislative meetings, but he wasn’t reimbursed for the Senate’s Boys State committee meeting June 3, Senate Director/Secretary Ann Cornwell told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The Ethics Committee recommended that the full 35-member Senate strip Clark and Johnson of committee chairman and vice chairman posts and of their eligibility for per diem and mileage reimbursement for the rest of this year.

The Ethics Committee also called for the Senate to reprimand the pair and for them not to be considered for appointment to the Senate’s Boys State or Girls State or Senate Ethics Committee. It also recommended that Johnson be kicked off the Senate Ethics Committee.

Considering that Boys State and Girls State are all about civics education for high school students and that the Senate Ethics Committee is, well, about ethics, this seems like a fair recommendation. 

Johnson thought the penalties were “over the top.” We disagree, but some of us are still capable of shame. 

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