Secretary of state's public affairs division silent on double dipping report | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Secretary of state's public affairs division silent on double dipping report

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 12:53 PM

TWO DIPS OF PUBLIC MONEY: Deputy Secretary of State A.J. Kelly gets pay from the city of Fairfield Bay as part-time city attorney as well as $100,000 from the state.
  • TWO DIPS OF PUBLIC MONEY: Deputy Secretary of State A.J. Kelly gets pay from the city of Fairfield Bay as part-time city attorney as well as $100,000 from the state.
I reported here yesterday a summary of Freedom of Information work by Matt Campbell of the Blue Hog Report. He found through a series of inquiries that Deputy Secretary of State A. J. Kelly, who makes more than $100,000 a year, also is paid for part-time legal work for the city of Fairfield Bay.  That work produced more than $18,000 for Kelly  in 2012, according to Fairfield Bay records Campbell obtained.

Campbell says his efforts to obtain secretary of state office leave records have yet to produce documents  that show Kelly recorded time off for times when, according to Fairfield Bay records, he seemed to be meeting on city business. Campbell also obtained Fairfield Bay emails between Kelly and city officials and documents he prepared for the city. Times on both fell during regular office hours of the secretary of state's office, Campbell reported.

Perhaps there's a good explanation. None has been forthcoming.

Alex Reed, director of public affairs for Secretary of State Mark Martin, did not respond yesterday or today to multiple requests for comment on the story. My questions boil down to these:

1) Does Mark Martin know and approve of a full-time deputy with a six-figure salary having outside employment with another government agency? In short, is public double dipping OK for his staff? Legal or not, I'd expect a total commitment from a six-figure deputy, not additional public work with an agency that might even find itself with the need for public interaction with his main employer.

2) Is he confident that Kelly didn't do Fairfield Bay work on state time? If so, are there records that support that belief?

My twitter this morning about double dipping (a label not meant to impute illegal activity, any more than it did when Republicans were throwing it around to end the practice of public employees retiring to receive accrued retirement benefits and then unretiring to also claim a public paycheck)  drew the ire of another Mark Martin staffer, Mark Myers. He's a long-time Republican flack who helped run Martin's election campaign and who now makes about $70,000 as "director of strategic initiatives." He responded:

careful liberal bloggers aren't immune from slander laws. 

Facts are facts. Records show Kelly has pay from two public sources. Records Campbell has obtained also offer circumstantial evidence that some of the work might have been done on state time. If that's not so, they need only say so and, preferably, produce evidence about leave time to demonstrate the fact.

Myers responded to that point:

Your story is riddled with inaccuracies and even outright fabrications. I'm not going to tell you which ones. You reported as fact things that you have no first hand knowledge. Assuming that you can paraphrase another blogger, who has an agenda, and then still have the facts straight is a very laughable proposition for an outlet that wants to claim some journalistic high ground.

You've lost your way as journalist. It's why Huckabee and Griffin both refused to deal with you. You are getting close to having all Republicans just ignore you.

Warm Regards,

- Mark

Subsequently, I learned the inaccuracy referred to my mistake in referring to emails with time stamps indicating they were sent during state working hours as state office emails rather than from Kelley's personal e-mail account. I've corrected that reference. The key point is not which account was used for the mail, but whose time clock was running when he wrote them.   It's fair —  on the record that Campbell compiled — to ask if he billed the state and the city for the same time.

Myers doesn't intend to get into the details of that, preferring to shoot at the messengers by focusing on Campbell's declared Democratic leanings and Republicans' past efforts to attack Campbell when he worked for the Arkansas Supreme Court. Then, Republicans were worried about Campbell's free blogging hobby. He insisted that it was always done on his break time.

Myers finally said  this, as his office's last word to me on the subject:

Nothing illegal or unethical [was done] by anybody in SOS office.

Given the Mark Martin record of resistance to accountability, disrespect for the Freedom of Information Act and occasional profligacy with public money, that's short of a comforting answer.  Maybe Legislative Audit can get more details. If only they'd look.

Warm regards,

Max

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