Local Saline County blogger Shelli Russell confirms a rumor posted by Max Brantley on the Arkansas Times blog last night. It seems Mayor Jill “Republican” Dabbs has appointed the Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman as the acting City Attorney.
Finance Director Gary Hollis reinstated by council after it was determined he was forced to resign. Arkansas GOP Chair Doyle Webb appointed by mayor as acting City Attorney, after former City Attorney Nga Mafouz resigned. Mayor offered and Webb accepted a salary of $65k/yr for a period of approximately 60-90 days. Mayor Dabbs says Webb will not be in the office 8-5, but will be accessible by phone or email during those hours, and will be in the office most of the time.
Lots of local politics involved here that I don’t dare dive into, but several state Republicans have already asked me if Webb will continue his roughly $90,000 paid chairmanship of the state Republican Party while serving as $65,000 paid attorney for Bryant. Looking at recent financial filings, cash is extremely low at the RPA. The November 2011 Federal FEC filing had it at $10,251. This does not include state funds so it could be a bit more than this. We will get a better picture when the year-end filings come out in about a week.
I’ve got a call in to Webb and I will ask about all this if I hear back. (See UPDATE.)
Bryant also voted down a proposal to impose a city tax of 5 percent on alcohol sales at the plethora of “private clubs” in the city. Benton passed a similar ordinance last month.
UPDATE – I spoke with Webb who confirmed Mayor Dabbs had asked and he agreed to be the city attorney for Bryant but only on an interim basis.
“I don’t see this lasting more than a couple months and should be over by the end of February,” said Webb. “I do not see this interfering with my duties as party chairman.”
Webb said that he normally teaches a government class at UALR and will be taking a break from that while he pulls double-duty for now. He also said that the RPA’s finances were “fine.” They paid off the note on their building before the end of the year and he said he estimates they will have around $30,000 in the bank at year-end. They also are in the middle of a fundraising drive.
ALSO – No surprise that the Democratic Party of Arkansas took a swing on this slow moving softball pitch hung out over the plate. Their press release today accuses Republicans of engaging in backdoor politics (something Democrats know quite a bit about.)
“It’s appalling to see the Republican Party of Arkansas engage so blatantly in partisan politics for personal gain,” Candace Martin, Democratic Party of Arkansas spokesman said. “Chairman Webb’s complete disregard for transparency and ethics is indicative of a Republican Party who will do or say anything to scheme the taxpayer and run away from responsibility.”
Martin does ask a pretty good question. “Will Doyle Webb be conducting partisan business on the taxpayer dime?” Martin asked. “This complete abuse of taxpayer money should not be allowed for any period of time.”