Judicious spending | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 31, 2011

Judicious spending

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:56 PM

So. Back to work after three weeks off

And what does the e-mail bring?

courtney.jpg
* It brings a raised eyebrow at the annual financial disclosure report filed by Courtney Henry, newly elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Why is it eyebrow raising? Because she reported more than $100,000 in travel and gifts and loaned money from a Texarkana lawyer, John Goodson. Many trips. A $22,000 watch. Many handbags. Etc.

Henry's close friendship with Goodson, a major political player, has been widely known in legal circles for some time. She was sued for divorce June 14, shortly after her election in late May to a seat on the Supreme Court (her campaign focused on her sensitivity to family issues). The list of gifts she reported receiving from Goodson included a $5,500 expenditure June 10 for "lodging, expenditures and entertainment."

Henry, in an effort to fully disclose the benefits she'd received from a member of the bar, somehow forgot to report her income in 2010 as a member of the Arkansas Court of Appeals. She did report that she is in debt to Goodson for more than $5,000. There is no other elaboration on the debt.

Thoughts? There's this. The new justice portrayed herself in a misleading way, many believe, including former supporters, given that her divorce was in the mill long before her election but her expensive TV campaign pitched her interest in families. But that's just politics. More directly. Can a sitting judge receive expensive gifts from an admirer, as long as she reports them? I think the answer is yes. If somebody knows otherwise, let me know.

PS — Yes. She of course will recuse from the cases her boyfriend and his firm might bring before her court.

* I append on the jump the House of Representatives news release on the wondrous ethics legislation. Gerard and Jason Tolbert have dealt with this adequately previously. It's self-serving, insignificant trivia. Republicans got tooled by House Speaker Robert Moore. They got a headline for nothing. And all the insiders know it. Drinks and steaks are on the lobbyists, boys and girls, meet you at Sonny Williams.

HOUSE NEWS RELEASE

House Speaker Robert S. Moore, Jr., today filed a bill to enhance the state's ethics laws and change travel reimbursement guidelines for legislators. The measure was produced by a bi-partisan working group of House members, including House Minority Leader John Burris and House Majority Leader Johnnie Roebuck, along with Representatives Ann Clemmer, Bobby Pierce, Duncan Baird, Linda Tyler, David Sanders, John Edwards, David Fielding, and Eddie Cheatham.

House Bill 1284 would implement a mandatory "cooling off period," before legislators could become lobbyists. The legislation would also implement a stricter travel policy for state lawmakers, to align travel and reimbursement procedures with those practiced by most state agencies.

"We asked this bi-partisan group of members to come together and study the matter, and I applaud the hard work and unity they have put forth," said Moore. "Minority Leader Burris and Majority Leader Roebuck have been instrumental in this effort. Rep. Clemmer is to be recognized for her work on spearheading the proposed travel policy. I commend the spirit of bi-partisanship that produced this legislation. It's a good day for government accountability and a good day for the People of Arkansas."

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