The Blue Hog Report has taken an exhaustive look at Republican Rep. Mark Martin’s lavish expense charges to the state of Arkansas. The GOP secretary of state nominee is a top tenner when it comes to expenses. He claims it’s because he’s a remote legislator from NW Ark., laboring so hard traveling back and forth for his constituents that he attends meetings of committees on which he doesn’t sit.
It turns out that a big portion of Martin’s taxpayer tab is a $1,350 monthly rental payment to Martin to rent office space
in HIS OWN HOME from himself. CORRECTION: A spokesman for Martin says that, despite addresses listed in various public documents, his expense reimbursements are for renting space to himself from his business office in space he subleases from another business at 9310 Wagon Wheel Road in Springdale, not from his home in Prairie Grove.) Writes Blue Hog:
Now, as odd as it may sound, even that action is technically ok, if somewhat irritating. After all, the reimbursement statute allows each legislator to choose from three reimbursement levels — $5820 per year, $6540 per year, or $14400 per year.1 There is nothing in the statute that explains how a lawmaker should determine which reimbursement level he or she should select, but given that we are talking about “reimbursements,” a safe guess would be that legislators should choose the level that they anticipate will best cover their expenses (office rent, phone, supplies, etc.). It might boggle the mind to figure out how Martin could possibly owe himself $1350/month for a portion of his own home, but that action in and of itself is not improper.
The problem arises, however, when you start factoring in Martin’s activities as a candidate for Secretary of State.
For one thing, not only is 123 Pittman St. listed as the business address for Martin’s company and the address of Martin’s home-county office as a legislator, but it is also the physical address of Martin’s campaign headquarters according to some sources …
Martin also has listed the same phone number for state and campaign purposes.
Blue Hog offers some potential squirm room that Martin might offer to justify his overlapping state and campaign efforts. Martin’s campaign contends the overlapping phone numbers and addresses are just for recordkeeping purposes and don’t cross any lines in terms of allowable activities.
But this is still one of those quack-like-a-duck deals. Statutory violations or not, Martin is running a pocket-lining racket at taxpayer expense. The maximum flat reimbursements allowable are a sleazy practice. And he’s going to clean up state government? Maybe the state Republican Party should sue Mark Martin, too.
UPDATE: Martin tries to stir up covering fire with an overheated, but ultimately thin, complaint.