Arkansas Ethics Commission To Ask Legislature For More Funding

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 163 views 

From high-profile political scandals to double-digit workload increases, the Arkansas Ethics Commission says it needs more funding to keep up with its caseloads and expectations.

Graham Sloan, director of the Arkansas Ethics Commission, says the agency needs more staff and a larger meeting space to accommodate the additional work it has been seeing and is projected to encounter in this and future years.

“The time has come where we stand at a crossroads and in order to effectively meet our duties, we need more people,” Sloan said in an appearance on Talk Business & Politics on Sunday morning.

Under current scenarios in 2014, Sloan said the Ethics Commission expects to see a 40% increase in the number of cases it will handle from just two years ago. The average length of those cases has been extended by 60% due to their complexities. And, citizen filings (versus staff filings) have risen by 50% from 2012, Sloan says.

“To see those numbers is surprising. I think there’s definitely been an increase in our workload and it’s not just more cases. They’ve become more complicated as well,” Sloan said.

Sloan said his agency will ask for three new positions in addition to its current staff of nine to handle increased workloads. That would include a managing attorney, attorney specialist, and a compliance specialist at a combined cost of $175,952 for salaries.

He estimates that the new staff would help the agency conduct investigations, compliance and public education. He also said there will be a request for an additional $25,000 in operations to move into new work space.

“Our current space is cramped. The offices are small. And the meeting room — especially on meeting day — we have to juggle people in and out of the room in order to accommodate the public, the press, and the people who are appearing before the commission,” Sloan said.

The Arkansas Ethics Commission, which was formed in 1990 with just three employees, has seen its duties and importance grow. In the last 18 months, it has been at the center of controversies surrounding Lt. Governor Mark Darr (R ), Treasurer Martha Shoffner (D), and former Senate President Paul Bookout (D-Jonesboro). You can watch Sloan’s full interview from this week’s program below.