In a post last week, I speculated how soon Rep. Jane "Crawfishin" English (R-??) would break another promise. Turns out we didn’t have to wait long. Jane English has broken a sacred promise to the voters by moving out of her State Rep. district just so she can further her political ambitions.
Yesterday, the Arkansas Blog broke the story that English moved out of House District 42 in order to move into Senate District 34 to run for Sen. Mary Ann Salmon’s open seat. State Rep. Barry Hyde (D-North Little Rock) is also seeking the seat. English’s unethical behavior gives Hyde a campaign issue that damages English’s candidacy.
I have personal experience in dealing with Republican legislators who move out of a House district in order to run for the Senate. In 2002, then-Republican State Rep. Jim Magnus abandoned his House District in order to run for an open Senate seat.
As the executive director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas at the time, I had the DPA sue Magnus for abandoning his district. The case went all the way to the State Supreme Court which ultimately ruled that it was a legislative matter since the state constitution is not clear on residency after an election. Magnus won the case in court, but the publicity from his unethical — but technically legal behavior — was a contributing factor to his crushing defeat by then-State Rep. Shane Broadway in the fall of 2002.
If this is a matter for the State Legislature to decide, what do they plan to do when one of their members so blatantly abandons her legislative district? This is not a partisan issue. It’s an issue of right and wrong. If a Democratic legislator has abandoned his/her district they are just as wrong as Jane English.
We’ve seen the issue rise earlier this year when Republicans forced a vote on the residency and legitimacy of Democratic State Rep. Fred Smith, who was eventually seated but later resigned for other reasons.
During next year’s fiscal session, Rep. English will cast votes on behalf of a district she no longer lives in. What if English is the deciding vote on an important issue? How is it ethical that a vote comes from a member that doesn’t live in the district that elected her?
Simply put – Jane English must resign her House seat. If she doesn’t, then the House should either remove her or bar her from voting.
There is no difference if Jane English lives two miles or 200 miles away from her current district. Voters deserve an elected official who lives among them.
Jane English’s record of “crawfishin” and breaking promises is going to haunt her Senate candidacy next year.