Double-dip watch | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Double-dip watch

Posted By on Sun, Jul 26, 2009 at 7:00 AM

The Democrat-Gazette finally reported today on the developing controversy over the elected county official flim-flam to fake-retire for a few months as a means of drawing both retirement (at the double counting rate provided only elected officials) and regular pay. The article added some useful history. As a helpful former colleague told me yesterday, an elected official in Fort Smith first exploited the perceived loophole (which may not legally exist) in 1999.

The Garland County officials who most recently took advantage of the deal finally came out of hidey holes and commented to the D-G reporter that they thought they'd acted legally and want to set matters right. Very interesting: They said they'd made contributions to continue their health, life and dental insurance premiums while "retired." Did they make only the employee contribution? Or did they do as real people must do under COBRA to continue health insurance when no longer employed and pay both their share and the employer's share?

The real catch here is simple: If those who fake-retired did so legally, then those among them who continued to perform the duties of their office did so illegally because they were no longer in office. Any official documents they authorized during that interim are legally dubious. This is potentially huge. If they did NOT legally retire (as an attorney general's opinion suggests is the case in many instances) then they need to pay back those retirement checks. Oh what a tangled web ....

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