The sodden open line | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The sodden open line

Posted By on Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM

I'm whistling "Louisiana 1927" as I take a break from ark building to throw open an evening line.

News? Not much.

A guy in a checkout line did say a Little Rock man bought a $145,000 piece of jewelry as a Christmas gift last week. For his wife, girlfriend or boyfriend? Didn't say. Sales tax on that baby, over $13,000, is about a year's income for someone making the state's current minimum wage, $6.75 an hour.

UPDATE: This is more about the grifting Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, but, by golly, it's newsy.

Blue Hog Report has posted a comprehensive list of the Arkansas statutes that evidence suggests have been violated by Darr's office and campaign account cheating. A dozen of them. But get a load of this. It has potential to affect dozens of lawmakers:

The report discussed Darr’s purchase of Arkansas Razorbacks football season tickets without paying the standard “donation” to the Razorback Foundation is a “special privilege” within the meaning of the statute. The report suggested that, because the previous opinion on the issue did not address it squarely, the Ethics Commission might want to re-examine that scenario and issue a clear ruling on it.

As I've written before, this is standard favored treatment of legislators. Seats that sometimes cost thousands for others because of prime location cost only face value to legislators. And they get free parking passes. It's a gift worth real money far in excess of what are supposed to be the limits. 

Here's an earlier report on the dozens of legislators who get this significant opinion. It notes that the Ethics Commission in 2000 issued an ill-considered opinion that there was no value to this very valuable perk (at least when the Hogs are winning). It and the parking are clearly special privileges with easily defined values. It should stop. By the way, at least one member of the state Senate, Bobby Pierce, has told me he DOES make a seat contribution, despite being included on the list of legislators supplied by UA when I asked for legislators with seats.  It is possible, though I"ve heard from no others, that other legislators might have paid the market rate for the seats. Darr clearly did not.

Here's the legislative seating chart. Georgia, by the way, has banned this practice. And they still manage to win football games.

CHEAP SEATS: Darr and wife enjoyed Razorback tickets purchased with campaign contributions. Plus, he got them (and free parking) without making the contributions run-of-the-mill fans must pay to the Razorback Foundation.
  • CHEAP SEATS: Darr and wife enjoyed Razorback tickets purchased with campaign contributions. Plus, he got them (and free parking) without making the contributions run-of-the-mill fans must pay to the Razorback Foundation.

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