Democrats won't pursue challenge of Faulkner clerk with criminal record | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 14, 2016

Democrats won't pursue challenge of Faulkner clerk with criminal record

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 2:28 PM

click to enlarge CHALLENGE DROPPED: Lawsuit over Margaret Darter's candidacy won't continue, despite her conviction. - LOG CABIN DEMOCRAT/ FAULKNER SHERIFF
  • Log Cabin Democrat/ Faulkner sheriff
  • CHALLENGE DROPPED: Lawsuit over Margaret Darter's candidacy won't continue, despite her conviction.
Chris Burks, counsel for the Democratic Party and lawyer for plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the eligibility of Margaret Darterto be Faulkner County clerk, says he won't pursue an appeal of a circuit judge's decision in the case.

Darter pleaded guilty to changing public records so public officials wouldn't have been shown to be late in filing required ethics forms. She resigned from office, but ran again and Circuit Judge David Clark didn't decide the case until after votes had been counted. He then held (after Darter got 56 percent of the vote) that, while dishonesty was an element in Darter's misdemeanor crime, the crime to which she pleaded guilty didn't meet the constitution's technical definition of infamous crime that would make her ineligible to hold office.

Burks released this statement, a slam on the Republican Party in general for backing a dishonest candidate :

"We agree with the Circuit Court that the crime in this case is obstruction of justice, but we disagree with the Circuit Court that the Arkansas Supreme Court has decided to exclude obstruction of justice from the list of infamous crimes that disqualify someone from office.

However, the Faulkner County Election Commission has already decided who it wants to win the county clerk race. An Election Commission is only supposed to count the votes and not pick a candidate. Instead, the Faulkner County Election Commission has twice supported their preferred candidate: once before she even plead guilty and again after a lawsuit was filed.

They will vote a third time tomorrow to certify their candidate even knowing a lawsuit is ongoing.

As such, an appeal may not help the Democratic nominee and may result in a special election.

Faulkner County desperately needs responsible leadership. As evidenced by the nearly identical vote margin for countyclerk and other county offices, voters vote on party lines. As such, it is imperative that moderate, responsible Republicans hold others accountable.

We are taking the responsible step of stopping the lawsuit. We call on Faulkner County Republicans to do the same: responsibly rein in the renegade Election Commission and only select qualified nominees to be elected officials.

County government shouldn’t be partisan. Election Commissions should just count the votes.

Republican State Sen. Jason Rapert, Republican State Rep.e Doug House and many Republican Quorum Court members took sides and showed up to court in this case. Some even went so far as talking to the judge about the case. As both the county and the state legislative branches fund the judicial branch that decides this case, it was highly inappropriate for them to do so.

In Arkansas, with Republican control of state government, comes control of election commissions. Each county has a three-member commission, with two members appointed by the Republican Party.

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