Mark Leverett, a candidate for Little Rock district court, is off to a slightly rocky start on his campaign for the bench. He's apparently already run afoul of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits judges or judicial candidates from making a contribution to or endorsing a political party or candidate.
Leverett contributed $250 to Rita Bailey, a candidate for district court in Wrightsville. Leverett said the donation was an innocent mistake and he would not have made it had he known the rules prohibited it. He said he'd ask Bailey to return the contribution.
Leverett is also listed as a supporter on the website of Darren Williams, the Democratic candidate for District 36 state representative. Leverett said he was not aware his name was on the website.
And finally, though you can't blame this one on Leverett, his campaign contribution report shows a $150 donation from the Airport Church of Christ. Churches aren't prohibited from making campaign contributions, but generally they don't because it can call into question their status as tax-exempt institutions. A church spokesman said the contribution was an error. It should have been written from the account of the pastor, Thomas Hartaway.
Elsewhere in today's issue, we report on the arrival of a new restaurant, Big Whiskey's American Bar and Grill in the former Velo Rouge space at Markham and Cumberland Streets.
But wait. Didn't a joint called Margarita Mama's have to change its handle a while back because a state Alcoholic Beverage Control rule said an establishment couldn't have an alcoholic drink in its name?
ABC lawyer Milton Lueken explains that the rule against boozy names applies only to private clubs. Since Big Whiskey will hold a restau-rant beverage permit, it is free to mention alcohol in its name.
Who loves guns most? It's a popular topic in Arkansas elections. Witness the hot race for state Senate between incumbent Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker and Democrat Joe White. White, who says he owns 10 guns, put out the news last week that a search of state records turned up no indication that Baker, who enjoys the National Rifle Association endorsement and its active phone bank in support, had never held an Arkansas hunting or fishing license. Baker, a church music director, responded that he thoroughly loves hunting and fishing, but just didn't have the time for the hobby. By way of proving his gun credentials, he sent out a flyer showing a photo of his son with a deer he'd killed. Kapow.
Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.