GOP files suit over cars | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GOP files suit over cars

Posted By on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 10:56 AM

As promised, the Arkansas Republican Party has filed its lawsuit over free cars provided various state officials. The argument is that the cars, to the extent they are used for personal purposes, amount to income in excess of constitutional and statutory limits on pay.

It's clearly an arguable point and has been for decades, but the party saw opportunity this year with the huge amount of reporting the Democrat-Gazette has brought to the issue. Mike Huckabee, a Republican governor, enjoyed a similar income enhancement, for example, before his State Police Director Tom Mars dreamed up statutory cover by making it the lawful duty of State Police to provide security for the governor and thus be the chauffeur of the first family's vehicles.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel correctly declined to issue an opinion on the practice, expecting the legal action. He has himself given up the state vehicle once provided the attorney general. Ordinarily, he'd defend this suit, but he's been named as a defendant plaintiff, though he no longer has a state car.

While we're getting all ethical, I'd urge the Republican Party to consider a searching look at whether inflated, unsupported expense claims by legislators might amount to unconstitutional income enhancements. Republican Mark Martin is by no means the only legislator whose practices could stand a closer look. It would be bipartisan sport.

Here's the lawsuit.

The Democratic Party says the suit is baseless and hypocritical given Jim Keet's tax problems and Party Chair Doyle Webb's ethical failings as a lawyer. (See jump.)


A lawsuit regarding the personal use of state-owned vehicles was filed in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County today by State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb. The suit listed Arkansas’ seven constitutional officers and Speaker of the Arkansas House Robbie Wills as defendants for their alleged violation of Amendment 70 to the Arkansas Constitution.

Plaintiff for the suit is Johnny Rhoda of Van Buren County, citizen and Second District Chairman for the Republican Party. Webb is the present attorney.

Amendment 70 prohibits constitutional officers from receiving any additional income beyond their salary. In a press conference held over a week ago, Webb said he considers the personal use of state vehicles additional income or expenses.

“Amendment 70 must be enforced and our executive state officeholders must be held accountable for their unwillingness to resolve this error,” said Webb. “Ignoring the people of Arkansas while driving on their dime is unacceptable.”

Webb also noted Attorney General Dustin McDaniel declined on Friday to issue an official opinion on the personal use of state vehicles after receiving a request submitted by Republican State Senator Denny Altes in mid August.

“Who or what is McDaniel protecting? The “tradition and practice” of the old boy system in Arkansas?” asked Webb. “Attorney General Dustin McDaniel may have declined to issue an advisory opinion on state vehicles last week but his actions speak louder than words.”

Attorney General McDaniel surrendered his state vehicle in July and has said he would reimburse the state fully for his personal use. In a statement issued to the press, McDaniel said if constitutional officers report the use of a state vehicle as income on a tax return, they are in violation of Amendment 70.

“Why did McDaniel refuse to make his statement an official opinion?” asked Webb. “The Republican Party is prepared to fight for the people of this state to be represented honestly by their public officials. There is no room for entitlement in public service and there is no room for the old boy network in Arkansas state government.”


After weeks of discussion, the Arkansas GOP filed its long-threatened lawsuit over state vehicles today. Just days ago, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published a blistering editorial criticizing the Republican Party of Arkansas and Jim Keet for placing partisan politics above the issues and filing an unfounded, hypocritical and frivolous lawsuit. The newspaper called the actions by Jim Keet and state party chairman Doyle Webb “unfair” and “a little screwy.”

Jim Keet’s tax cheating schemes and Doyle Webb’s ethical problems have been well documented by the media. It was not long ago that Doyle Webb was fined by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct for scamming an elderly widow who was likely in a diminished mental state. The scheme netted Webb $321,000.

"Ranting and raving and filling the docket with politically motivated, frivolous lawsuits won't create jobs or continue improvements in education in Arkansas," said Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Todd Turner. "But it will distract from the recent scandals and ethical lapses in which Doyle Webb and Jim Keet have engaged. Does Doyle Webb believe it’s acceptable to claim a homestead tax exemption in two different states? Does Jim Keet believe it’s acceptable for a lawyer to draft a will for his elderly client that names the lawyer as the primary beneficiary of her estate? Instead of clogging the dockets of Arkansas courts with baseless lawsuits, Jim Keet and Doyle Webb should concentrate on their own dealings."

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016
  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.
  • The prayers of Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert is keeping a close eye on the Alabama Senate race.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Today in Tom Cotton's clothes

    • I think you're all wrong. The Koch brothers have been playing with Rotten Cotton, and…

    • on December 13, 2017
  • Re: Open line

    • Mountain girl, at least you have a desperately devoted, mobile heat blanket there to warm…

    • on December 13, 2017
  • Re: Walmart to let workers take wages before payday

    • Can you say company town?

    • on December 13, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation