Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Martha Shoffner resigns as Arkansas state treasurer

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Screen_Shot_2013-05-21_at_5.31.23_PM.png

AT COURT MONDAY: Chuck Banks and Martha Shoffner.
  • AT COURT MONDAY: Chuck Banks and Martha Shoffner.
A 5:04 p.m. e-mail from Chuck Banks, attorney for Martha Shoffner, delivered a copy of a letter she sent to Gov. Mike Beebe tendering her resignation as state treasurer.

She had not returned to work today following her appearance in federal court to answer a charge that she'd extorted money through public office by taking kickbacks from a securities salesman who did business with the state.

Banks had said yesterday that he'd recommend Shoffner resign given what faced her. According to the FBI, she admitted her improper activities to agents who arrested her Saturday at her home in Newport after the salesman, acting as a confidential informant, recorded her accepting $6,000 in $100 bills hidden in a pie as one in a series of payments for a huge increase he'd enjoyed in selling bonds to Shoffner's office for state investments.

Shoffner's letter, copied to the attorney general, said she could no longer perform the duties and responsibilities owed the public. There'd been unanimous calls for her immediate resignation from political figures and a push for Beebe to call a special session to impeach her or otherwise remove her if she did not. Beebe had said this morning he wanted to give her a little more time before plunging into some uncharted removal waters. Given circumstances and Banks' advice, her resignation can't be called a surprise.

Beebe will appoint a successor to complete her term, which runs through 2014. Former Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher is one of several names mentioned as a potential appointee.

The resignation lances a boil that would have grown into a huge political squabble before too many more hours had passed.

I've sought a comment from Beebe on his plans and have asked Banks if this signals any change in how Shoffner plans to proceed on the charge. UPDATE: Banks said there'd been no change in the earlier statement that Shoffner planned to enter an innocent plea. "Still more work to do," he commented in an e-mail.

BEEBE OFFICE UPDATE:

He’s glad to see it happen with the immediacy that it did. His attention now turns to the appointment, he will work to have someone in place as soon as possible. He did not reach out to anybody prior to the resignation, will begin that process now that the letter is in hand.


Shoffner faces a sentence of up to 20 years on a conviction. A criminal defense attorney, using some estimates on the amount of alleged bribery and money lost to the state in the transactions, has estimated for me that she could face a minimum of four to six years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Downward departures are unusual for public officials in corruption cases. Shoffner is 68 and in her second term as treasurer. She'd previously served in the House of Representatives.

This is only the end of the beginning, of course. Charges arising from this case could go beyond the single charge filed against Shoffner so far, depending on whether prosecutors at the state and federal level think more investigation is required. State prosecutors, for example, could pursue state bribery charges as well as charges related to improper campaign contributions. Securities regulators at the state and federal level are reviewing activities of the securities dealer. Inevitably, that review could consider others with whom Shoffner has dealt, including in some previously reported campaign finance discrepancies. Shoffner fell, too, because of tips from disaffected former employees whose variety of stories might bear another look. State legislators will want to look at whether sufficient protection is available to encourage whistleblowing by employees who think they know of misdeeds by officials. Also, people who had knowledge of Shoffner's alleged activities might be deserving of some attention as well. I've written a column this week expressing a widely held belief that a securities investment professional shouldn't be chosen by popular election, certainly not in a race in which the campaign finance money has always come from people with an interest in doing business with the treasurer.

Here's the original story on the charge.

Here also is our exclusive story in which three sources, including his boss, identify salesman Steele Stephens of the St. Bernard Financial Services company as the salesman who participated in the investigation.

Is a note of sadness allowed for this debacle? Or only anger of the self-righteous and political triumphalism?

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • There Leslie Rutledge goes again; now she faults Hillary for Bill's infidelity 20 years ago

    September 28, 2016
    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's disastrous appearance Monday night on CBS — which produced a record amount of comment and views on both our Facebook page, Twitter account and Arkansas Blog — apparently didn't harm her standing as a Trump surrogate. She's back on air today, this time blaming Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton's indiscretions 20 years ago. /more/
  • Beebe added to anti-casino group

    September 21, 2016
    The Oaklawn- and Southland-backed group opposing an amendment allowing three more casinos in Arkansas announced today that former Gov. Mike Beebe is on their side. /more/
  • Rapert claims victory over Facebook; either way, he still doesn't get 1st Amendment

    September 20, 2016
    Sen. Jason Rapert sent me a Tweet early this morning claiming that Facebook had relented and reinstated some anti-Muslim Facebook posts that had been removed for violation of the private social media company's "community standards." True or not, he still doesn't get the U.S. Constitution. /more/
  • Casino v. Casino: The fight on Issue 5

    September 14, 2016
    The latest debate on more casino gambling in Arkansas is more likely to be decided by public attitudes about gambling in general rather than some of the legal questions raised by opponents, casino operators themselves. /more/
  • Leslie Rutledge: Throw out the Clintons

    September 9, 2016
    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is listed as author of this polemic on Independent Journal Review, a Republican-backed website, urging a vote for Donald Trump for president. /more/
  • A plan for Arkansas to get more out of the money it spends on corrections

    August 26, 2016
    Arkansas's prison population is among the fastest growing in the country. The state now spends more than half of a billion dollars on corrections, a 68 percent increase since 2004, and our prison population, which increased by 21 percent between 2012 and 2016, is expected to rise by another 19 percent between 2016 and 2023 to 21,345. Those were the facts and projections Justice Center, a project of the national nonprofit Council of State Governments, reminded people of yesterday before presenting criminal justice reform proposals. /more/
  • Arkansas criminal justice reform proposal due today

    August 25, 2016
    We'll get a good sense of what criminal justice reform legislation might look like in the 2017 General Assembly later today — as well as some potential stumbling blocks to its passage. Justice Center, an offshoot of the national nonprofit Council of State Governments, will offer policy recommendations to the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force this afternoon at the Arkansas Association of Counties conference. /more/
  • That time Asa Hutchinson sort of endorsed medical marijuana

    August 24, 2016
    Advocates of medical marijuana are circulating a YouTube video of a 2011 debate at the University of Arkansas between Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and Asa Hutchinson, not then governor but speaking as a former DEA Administrator and congressman. Hutchinson seemed open to medical use of marijuana. /more/
  • Eldridge raps Boozman for Florida trip while ducking debates

    August 24, 2016
    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, is knocking Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. John Boozman, for traveling to Florida this week while refusing to meet Eldridge for debate in Arkansas. /more/
  • Group forms to fight medical marijuana

    August 24, 2016
    A coalition of powerful lobbying groups filed papers with the Arkansas Ethics Commission Tuesday to fight medical marijuana issues headed for the November ballot. /more/
  • More »

Comments (25)

Showing 1-25 of 25

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 25

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • War. What is it good for? Tom Cotton has an idea

    Twenty-four hours after meddling in President Obama's talks with Iran, hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton scheduled an off-the-record meeting with defense contractors, who'd be happy to supply goods for U.S. armed incursions in the Middle East.
    • Mar 9, 2015
  • Who said the Civil War is over? See Arkansas legislature

    The Civil War isn't over. See the Arkansas legislature where defenders of Robert E. Lee and supporters of legislation damaging to black people are prominent on the agenda today.
    • Feb 11, 2015
  • A bicoastal plea for equality — North Little Rock, too, in other words

    A petition drive urges North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith to move quickly to enact a non-discrimination policy in North Little Rock, particularly aimed at sending a welcoming signal to people of different sexual orientation.
    • Feb 15, 2015

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • Leslie Rutledge gets torched in national spotlight

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared on a CBS panel Monday night as a defender of Donald Trump. Bob Schieffer wasn't impressed.
  • A response to police arrests becomes a tutorial on race, class and policing in Little Rock

    John Walker, the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, and his associate, Omavi Shukur, 29, a young lawyer devoted to criminal justice reform, talked to press this afternoon about their arrests Monday by Little Rock police for supposedly obstructing governmental operations in observing and attempting to film a routine police traffic stop. It was a tutorial on sharp views of race, class and governance in Little Rock.
  • There Leslie Rutledge goes again; now she faults Hillary for Bill's infidelity 20 years ago

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's disastrous appearance Monday night on CBS — which produced a record amount of comment and views on both our Facebook page, Twitter account and Arkansas Blog — apparently didn't harm her standing as a Trump surrogate. She's back on air today, this time blaming Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton's indiscretions 20 years ago.
  • Rutledge busy everywhere but Arkansas

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge doesn't have time to look into some important consumer issues in Arkansas, but she is busy intervening in lawsuits around the country on pet Republican issues such as discrimination against gay people.
  • How nursing homes used staff and patients for amendment campaign

    Marci Manley did some fine reporting for KARK last night on how the nursing home industry in Arkansas employed staff to round up signatures  from patient/residents for the amendment to limits lawsuits against nursing homes.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation