Since a Circuit Judge ruled earlier this week that Secretary of State Mark Martin’s hiring of private practice attorneys violated state law a few new wrinkles have developed in this saga of incompetence.
On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Beebe went on record with his thoughts on Martin’s wasting of taxpayer’s money:
“It’s like the Shoffner thing. Any time you’ve got a statewide constitutional officer that does something like this, it really causes all of us to look like we’ve got problems,” Beebe told the Arkansas News Bureau.
Beebe’s comments went statewide thus garnering more bad press for Martin.
Mark Martin’s illegal hiring of lawyers has also ensnared Asa Hutchinson. During the redistricting process in 2011, Mark Martin improperly hired Hutchinson as an attorney and paid him $200 an hour. The grand total cost of Asa Hutchinson’s improper legal work was $12,747.40. Martin did not have proper legal permission to hire Asa.
This raises an obvious question: Since Martin illegally hired Asa Hutchinson, will Asa return the $12,747 to the taxpayers?
Asa might not have known that his hiring, at $200 an hour, was improper, but now that he knows, how does he justify keeping our money?
Moreover, this is the second time this year that Asa Hutchinson’s involvement in a legal case has gotten the presumptive Republic nominee for Governor unwanted attention.
Asa Hutchinson is defending NWA developer Brandon Barber in his bank fraud case in federal court. Barber defrauded numerous NWA wealthy families and individuals and they are downright angry that Asa Hutchinson is defending someone who took their money and ran.
Some of these NWA business leaders normally contribute to Republic candidates, but they are sitting on their hands when it comes to Hutchinson. This may explain, in part, Hutchinson’s terrible fundraising so far.
Finally, Republics are scrambling trying to find cover for Mark Martin. Yesterday, my blogging counterpart at Talk Business wrote a story that raised some intriguing questions that maybe the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department had improperly done the same things as Martin.
However, today Max Brantley over at the Arkansas Times blog spoke with Rita Looney, chief legal counsel for the AHTD, who explained the AHTD hiring of outside counsel is completely different than Martin’s hiring.
You can read Looney’s full explanation here (behind the Times paywall).
But the gist of it all is Martin’s legal cover of citing AHTD practice of hiring lawyers was snatched away.
Secretary of State Mark Martin has not had a good week.