State Senate debate on Jonesboro TV today; speculation continues on related probe | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 3, 2014

State Senate debate on Jonesboro TV today; speculation continues on related probe

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 11:31 AM

click to enlarge kait.png
Need a political fix?

KAIT-TV in Jonesboro is broadcasting a debate at 12:10 p.m. today between the candidates in the special election to complete the state Senate term vacated by Paul Bookout, who remains under investigation for personal conversion of campaign money.

Steve Rockwell, the Democrat, and John Cooper, the Republican, will square off. 

UPDATE: The event will be streamed. Click a link that will appear at top of the webpage. Or use the KAIT app.

Speaking of Paul Bookout: I've reported previously that sources indicate a special state prosecutor's review of Bookout's use of campaign money has grown more complicated by interest on the part of federal investigators. Arkansas law — passed by the legislature — limits ethics violations to misdemeanors. Federal prosecutors sometimes have more options, both when mails and wire transfers are involved and also when income unreported for tax purposes is involved. Remember Al Capone? 

Evidence grows, too, that feds' interest in potential public corruption in state offices is broader than the Bookout case. 

UPDATE: In response to a question: Cooper said Lt. Gov. Mark Darr should resign, as a "practical" matter, but said he'd keep an open mind should he find himself in the Senate considering Darr's removal. Rockwell didn't  answer the question, but used it to take off on improvements he'd like to see in ethics laws, particularly electronic filing of campaign reports. Cooper called, too, for televised Senate proceedings and open Ethics Commission hearings.

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