Democratic Party rips Mark Martin for wasting tax money on outside lawyers | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Democratic Party rips Mark Martin for wasting tax money on outside lawyers

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 1:28 PM

IS HE RIPE FOR LAWSUIT? Secretary of State Mark Martins spending of public money on lawyers raises question.
  • IS HE RIPE FOR LAWSUIT? Secretary of State Mark Martin's spending of public money on lawyers raises question.
The Arkansas Democratic Party follows up today on Blue Hog Report's research that indicates 1) Mark Martin is the first secretary of state to rely on outside legal counsel (costing more than $100,000, on top of a staff full of lawyers) rather than the attorney general and 2) law seems to prohibit what Martin is doing.

The full recitation is on the jump.

The immediate question is whether there's a taxpayer suit to get the money back. Or, as Matt Campbell of Blue Hog has dared to hope, a vehicle to remove Martin from office. We noted here yesterday that Martin sent paying work to a lawyer who sits on a public board with Martin. Not that the payment would influence that board member's vote come the day, but Martin has created a dandy appearance of conflict of interest on future contested votes.

Will the Arkansas Republican Party, which rushed to repeat Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's baloney claim about cuts in office spending, rush to repeat THIS news?

DEMOCRATIC PARTY NEWS RELEASE

News came to light yesterday that Secretary of State Mark Martin became the first Secretary of State to contract with outside legal counsel for the office instead of using internal legal counsel or the Attorney General’s Office, causing Arkansas tax payers to wonder just how much more tax dollars will Mark Martin use to continue this hypocritical practice.

“Does Mark Martin's hypocrisy know no bounds?” questioned Democratic Party of Arkansas spokesman Candace Martin. “He campaigned on smaller government but is the only SOS in modern state history to hire outside counsel, wasting thousands of tax dollars and bringing new heights of hypocrisy to the office of Secretary of State.”

Information obtained by Blue Hog Report showed that Secretary Mark Martin is the first Secretary of State to contract with outside counsel to handle lawsuits and legal matters involving the SOS office since at least the early 1900’s.

Mark Martin has legal staff for the office of Secretary of State whose combined salaries total well over $250K a year yet that has not stopped Mark Martin from spending an additional $100K in Arkansas tax dollars on outside legal counsel for the SOS office.

BACKGROUND

Mark Martin becomes first Secretary of State in nearly a century to contract with outside legal counsel for the SOS office. C.G. “Crip” Hall, Secretary of State from 1937-1961, was named in tons of lawsuits, and he used the five Attorneys General of that time period every single time. Going back further, O.C. Ludwig (1905-1911), Earle W. Hodges (1911-1917), Tom J. Terral (1917-1921), Ira C. Hopper (1921-1925), and Ed F. McDonald (1931-1937) all utilized the Attorney General for legal assistance when necessary. (I can’t speak to Jim B. Higgins (1925-1931); if he did get sued, it does not appear to have wound up at the appellate level.)

If we look more recently, the results are no different. Nancy Hall (1961-1963) does not appear to have been named in a suit, but Kelly Bryant (1963-1975), George O. Jernigan (1975-1977), Winston Bryant (1977-1979), Paul Riviere (1979-1985), Bill McCuen (1985-1994), Sharon Priest (1994-2003), and Charlie Daniels (2003-2011) . . . all of them were sued at one time or another in their official capacity as Secretary of State, and all of them utilized in-house counsel or the Attorney General to defend that suit. All told, that is over full century of Secretaries of the State of Arkansas, all following the same route when it comes to legal help.

Read more at this link http://www.bluehogreport.com/2013/07/17/a-funny-thing-about-mark-martins-hiring-of-outside-counsel/

Secretary of State Mark Martin wastes over $100K in Arkansas tax dollars on outside legal counsel. In this case, it appears that Mark Martin has quite a need for legal assistance. In addition to the hundreds of thousands in attorneys employed by the SoS in various capacities, a quick look at the online checkbook also shows expenditures from the SoS to:

Chisenhall, Nestrud & Julian, P.A., for $68,364.30;
Patricia J. Hays, LLC, for $13,290.93;
The Asa Hutchison Law Group, PLC, for $12,747.40;
John Willems for $3,300.00;
Richard L. Hughes for $1,822.50;
Debbye L. Petre for $1,477.14;
Dover Dixon Horne, PLLC, for $1,245.00;
L. Jones Law Firm, PLC, for $750.00; and
Allison R. Gladden for $750.00.

Now, unless my math is all messed up, that’s another $103,747.27 in legal fees and “Professional & Administrative Fees” on top of the salaries already paid to in-house legal staff.

Read more online at this link: http://www.bluehogreport.com/2013/05/30/the-ongoing-steadily-rising-cost-of-electing-utter-incompetence/

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