Secretary of State Mark Martin
announced on Twitter late last night that he'd be off today on a two-week trip to Ghana. He'd met with officials from Ghana in August. He is said to be working to establish a Sister Cities relationship between Arkansas and the Volta region of Ghana.
Martin provided no office release on the trip, but a link to a story from the Ghana News Agency
, which said six people from Arkansas would be on the trip, including Martin and deputy Joseph Wood. It didn't say whether the trip was paid by Martin or by Ghana or private sources. I"ve asked Martin's office.
Martin's office serves as the official repository for various records, oversees elections and cares for the Capitol and grounds. It has no specific duties related to economic development but Martin has made several junkets during his tenure.
The legislature is meeting in Little Rock during the two-week absence.
The article said:
Arkansas is said to be the food basket of the United States. It is the largest producer of rice, broilers and turkeys and among the top three for cotton, pullets and aquaculture-catfish.
The partnership is therefore expected to position the Volta Region to make maximum use of its land and water resources to improve agricultural production and create jobs.
A note on Amendment 94
, the new "ethics" law approved by voters in November. It placed some new rules on accepting gifts from lobbyists and those who employ lobbyists. But it provided this exception, an exception I've been wondering about when it comes to the junkets that legislators are fond of taking each year:
(vi) Payments by regional or national organizations for travel to regional or national conferences at which the State of Arkansas is requested to be represented by a person or persons elected or appointed to an office under subsection (a) of this section;
Better to have Martin in Ghana than spouting off on Facebook about anti-Christian socialists
UPDATE: Martin's office says the Sisters Cities Organization is paying for the trip. It says Martin and Wood were the only office employees to make the trip. The office wouldn't identify others on the junket.