Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ethics Commission to hold hearing on 22 potential violations by Dennis Milligan

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 12:24 PM

WO"RDS AND DEEDS: Dennis Milligan campaigned on a motto of obeying the law. He faces a hearing next week on 22 potential law violations.
  • WO"RDS AND DEEDS: Dennis Milligan campaigned on a motto of obeying the law. He faces a hearing next week on 22 potential law violations.

Blue Hog Report
has potentially good news on the ethics front.

He has received notice that the Ethics Commission will hold hearings on whether there's probable cause to believe Treasurer Dennis Milligan had committed multiple ethics violations. The significant thing is that the Commission declined to use a new "safe harbor" provision of the ethics law by which legislators and public officials can claim mistakes and correct them when brought to their attention without ethical penalty.

But the Ethics Commission is not allowing that defense for Milligan in a number of complaints made against Milligan by Matt Campbell, a Little Rock lawyer who writes Blue Hog Report. Specifically:

* Did Milligan violate state law by hiring two spouses of legislators — the husband of Rep. Nelda Speaks and wife of Sen. Alan Clark — without prior legislative approval?

* Did he offer jobs to people in return for campaign support and did he extend special privileges to employees of his when he was Saline circuit clerk so they'd work on his treasurer's campaign?

*  Did he use his Saline county public offices or equipment for campaign purposes?

* Did he properly repeat campaign expenses and in-kind contributions, including from current state employee Gary Underwood? Such questions touch, too, on unreported campaign work done for him by current employees Grant Wallace and Jason Brady while they were working for a political lobby.

* Did he improperly fail to report Facebook advertising placed by Jason Brady.

The hearing will be Jan. 22. The good news is that the "safe harbor" law apparently will not mean an automatic way around all ethics violations, if the Commission forges ahead with an adverse finding. It also continued attention to the long list of administrative and ethical miscues that have marked Milligan since he began running for the office.

Blue Hog wrote:

You may recall that Milligan attempted to avail himself of the new safe-harbor self-reporting provision of the ethics rules after the complaint was filed. You might also recall–perhaps with a good deal of retrospective humor–that Milligan and his attorney claimed that, as a result of the safe-harbor provision, the Commission would not investigate the bulk of the allegations against Milligan. This was incorrect; the Ethics Commission found that affirmative defense applicable only to six of the 28 allegations contained in the original complaint.

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