Democrats press Mark Martin on car purchase | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 25, 2011

Democrats press Mark Martin on car purchase

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Well, sure. The Democratic Party has more to say about Secretary of State Mark Martin's early spending missteps. He bought a car and hired Republican consultants with $60,000 or so that was not his to spend without approval from other members of the Board of Apportionment. Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel were not so inclined.

So Martin has shifted the spending to his own budget. Two problems:

1) He's been boasting about spending less than his predecessor at this point. How now, with the fat he's added?

2) That car. He has a 23-vehicle fleet. He really needs a new car, a $27,629 2010 Ford Escape purchased from Lewis Motors of Fayetteville? He said it was bought for reapportionment, but now it's for "voter education"? This sounds like something GOP Chair Doyle Webb would be suing about if a Democrat had done it.

The Democratic Party's broadside is on the jump. I've sought a response from Martin's office, but no word back so far.


A month after a representative from Secretary of State Mark Martin’s Office bragged about reducing office spending, today the Democratic Party of Arkansas raised questions regarding their budget now that Martin has chosen to move unauthorized expenditures from the State Board of Apportionment fund to his own office’s budget.

Martin spokeswoman Alice Stewart recently bragged to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that their office expenditures were down as compared to the same period a year earlier, under Charlie Daniels, saying “… [Secretary of State Mark] Martin has spent $12,000 less through Feb. 22 after taking office Jan. 11 than over the same period in the secretary of state's office a year ago, [Alice] Stewart said.” [1]

"How do you spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a new car and cushy contracts for your Republican friends — while bragging about cutting costs in your office? Easy. Use another office's checkbook. Now we know it was just a shell game with taxpayer money," Candace Martin said. "Mark Martin needs to level with the taxpayers of Arkansas and correct the record. How much more has his office spent as compared to a year ago?"

Secretary of State Martin also announced that the new vehicle he purchased will be used for a different purpose than he originally described, saying, that the vehicle will be used for “voter education” despite the fact that the SOS office already owns 23 vehicles, most of them pool vehicles. [2]

“It’s questionable how Secretary Martin’s story is changing regarding his unilateral decision to purchase a new vehicle. First, it was to be used for the reapportionment process; now, it’s being used for ‘voter education.’ The shell game continues,” Candace Martin said. “What’s the real purpose for this nearly $30,000 luxury SUV and does the state GOP agree that this was a wise use of taxpayer money?”

Last week, Secretary of State Mark Martin revealed his purchase of a new vehicle before seeking input from the state Board of Apportionment, spending approximately $70,000 of the panel’s $200,000 budget between that and other purchases Martin made preemptively without approval from the full board. [3]

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