Mike Maggio files for unemployment compensation | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mike Maggio files for unemployment compensation

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 11:02 AM

click to enlarge maggioform.png

click to enlarge SEEKS DOLE: Ousted judge Mike Maggio.
  • SEEKS DOLE: Ousted judge Mike Maggio.
Mike Maggio, who was removed from his elected position as circuit judge on account of ethical violations, has filed a claim for unemployment compensation from the state of Arkansas. His attorney, though not directly involved, says it's now her understanding that the claim has been — or will be — withdrawn.

The state auditor's office, which received notice of the claim because it pays the $140,372 annual pay of the state's circuit judges, has responded to the claim with a letter from David Sachar, executive director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which investigated Maggio's commentary on an Internet website under a pseudonym and his sharing of confidential court information on that website. Maggio remains under investigation for the timing of his reduction of a $5.2 million jury verdict against a nursing home around the time the nursing home owner was making multiple contributions to his since-aborted campaign for state court of appeals.

Sachar noted Maggio's agreement to his agency's finding and the agreement not to seek election as a judge again. He noted that the Supreme Court took action he could not in immediately removing Maggio from the bench Sept. 11. Sachar's letter to the Arkansas Workforce Services Department, which processes unemployment claims, said Maggio was an elected constitutional officer and, as such, "likely had no direct 'employer' outside the electorate of the 20th Judicial District."

Peggy Gram, chief deputy auditor, consulted with the administrative office of the courts before deciding to respond to the claim by sending Sachar's letter and the supporting finding of the commission.

Gram commented that it would appear to be "common sense" that Maggio wouldn't qualify for benefits. The state makes no payment for unemployment insurance for elected officials. She said the Workforce Services investigation of the complaint should reveal that readily. She noted that many of the items on the standard claim form don't apply to Maggio's situation. The employer form is blank.

Maggio has been unavailable for comment to us since the controversy erupted. I've sought a comment from his attorney in the disciplinary matter.

Nobody I talked to today could recall the case of a public official claiming or receiving unemployment after leaving office,, for whatever reason.

The state's general guidance on unemployment claims says (emphasis supplied):

Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary financial assistance to workers unemployed through no fault of their own that meet Arkansas' eligibility requirements.

If an initial claim is denied, a claimant can appeal to an appeals tribunal and then to the Board of Review and then to the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

The Workforce Services Department said it does not comment on individual claims, so it's unknown where Maggio's claim currently stands. Based on his rate of pay as judge, Maggio would receive $451 a week in unemployment benefits should he be found to be qualified, up to a maximum payment of $11,275, according to the department.

Among many objectionable remarks, Maggio often had harsh things to say about welfare deadbeats.

Here's the file that the auditor's office sent to Workforce Services in response to the Maggio claim.

UPDATE: Lauren Hamilton, who's represented Maggio in the ethics case, sent this response to my query:

After receiving notice that an application had been filed and some discussion thereafter, it is my understanding that going forward his request will be withdrawn if that has already not occurred.

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