After intense political pressure from Democrats and Republicans, Arkansas State Treasurer Martha Shoffner (D) has resigned from office in the midst of facing federal charges of extortion and bribery.
Shoffner, who was arrested Saturday by the FBI, had indicated on Monday she did not plan to resign.
Today, more elected officials from both political parties renewed their insistence that she step down from her post immediately.
In a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe dated May 21, 2013, Shoffner said:
It is with great sadness that I tender my resignation of the office of Treasurer of the State of Arkansas.
I am proud to have been elected by and to have served the people of the State of Arkansas and regret that I can no longer perform the duties and responsibilities owed to the public.
Please accept this resignation effective 5:00 p.m. today’s date, May 21,2013.
Shoffner’s resignation now sets up a path for Gov. Beebe to name a replacement to fill out her term of office, which ends in January 2015. He is under no time constraint to name a replacement, but he will likely make a decision soon in order to restore leadership to the office.
The duties of State Treasurer, which pays roughly $54,000 annually, include receiving and keeping monies collected by the state, managing and investing funds, and disbursing funds according to state law.
Beebe will have an interesting dilemma of who to choose for the post. The circumstances dictate that a learned hand might make the most attractive candidate to be appointed State Treasurer. That person might be a retired or soon-to-be-retired banking or financial executive. It could also include a former state finance official with knowledge of the office and the state government financing processes.
The person Beebe appoints cannot run for re-election to the Treasurer’s post, but could run for another elective office.
One might think that Beebe must also be cognizant that the person he appoints affiliates as a Democrat. Currently, state law prescribes that the “majority status” in Arkansas is defined as the political party with the majority of constitutional offices. Democrats held a 4-3 advantage prior to Shoffner’s resignation.
Maintaining that advantage has the most impact in the composition of county election commissions. The “majority party” gets two representatives on each of the 75 county’s election commissions, while the “minority party” only gets one representative.
State law prescribes that the “majority party” is defined by the make-up of the constitutional officers after certification of the election by voters, meaning that Beebe’s appointment should not disrupt the current construction of the majority/minority party status.
From ACA § 7-1-101 (18):
“Minority party” means that political party whose candidates were elected to less than a majority of the constitutional offices of this state in the last preceding general election or the political party that polled the second greatest number of votes for the office of Governor in the last preceding general election if all of the elected constitutional officers of this state are from a single political party.