PUT ON THE CARD: Thousands in purchases at this Jonesboro retailer were charged by Sen. Paul Bookout to his campaign finance account.

  • PUT ON THE CARD: Thousands in purchases at this Jonesboro retailer were charged by Sen. Paul Bookout to his campaign finance account.

Sen. Paul Bookout filed late today a batch of amended campaign finance reports today at the secretary of state’s office to more accurately and legally report how he spent the $80,000 he raised for an unopposed campaign.


I’ll give you links to all of them, with some quick observations. First, the reports detail planned reimbursementsof about $53,000, which means refunds to contributors of about 60 cents on the dollar. The reports detail a man who lived out of campaign receipts at the rate of $5,000 or so a month for meals, clothes, drinks, home improvements and recreation. This type of take could be seen as a tax problem if received and not reported as income if it is strictly personal expenditures. Some of the money was paid directly in cash to Bookout himself.

Some details.


* FINAL REPORT, FOR PERIOD ENDING 12/28/2012: Note that, after making the adjustments, Bookout still kept the $17,000 surplus all successful candidates are entitled to keep from campaign money in an amount equal to one year of official pay. That money is supposed to be used only for official expenditures. But officials, like Bookout, keep the reserve even when they have no further campaigns in their future.

This report lists $1,093 in expenditures of more than $100 during the period that hadn’t been reported previously and that now will be paid back, along with smaller purchases of less than $100. All added up to \$2,074 to be reimbursed. They included purchases at Brookstone in Memphis, a North Little Rock liquor store and a Jonesboro grocery store. Remember this was all in December, long after the election and Bookout’s unopposed campaign was over.


* OCTOBER: This includes more than $9,200 in itemized expenditures to be reimbursed, including payments to Harmony Gardens, Home Depot, Sam’s, DNW Outdoors and the $8,402 payment to Sound Concepts for a home entertainment system. Total to be reimbursed counting expenditures of less than $100: $10,411.

* SEPTEMBER. $195 in unitemized expenses to be reimbursed.

* AUGUST: This report lists $3,878 in itemized expenditures to be reimbursed, including $2,000 paid to Bookout himself and other payments to a Harrisburg liquor store, Harmony Gardens, Best Buy, Walmart, Lowe’s and Japanese restaurants in Jonesboro and Little Rock. Total to be reimbursed counting unitemized expenses: $5,246.

* JULY: He reported $2,616 in itemized expenses now to be reimbursed — including $278 to Brave New Restaurant, $350 to Barbara Jean’s women’s clothing and $294 to E. Leigh’s in Little Rock, $1,016 to Ridgepoint Country Club, $147 to Omar’s in Jonesboro and $169 to Doe’s in Little Rock. Total counting unitemized: $3,901.


* JUNE: Bookout reported $4,612 in itemized expenses to be reimbursed here, inclouding the Steamroller Blues clothes store, Best Buy, Poinsett Package Store, $2,311 to Bookout himself and $400 worth of travel expenses to Fayetteville. total counting unitemized: $6,708.

* MAY FINAL PRIMARY REPORT: For this period, when Bookout was also unopposed, he spent $7,792 in increments of more than $100 that will be reimbursed. They includ3ed Steamroller Blues purchases and also from Belks, Dillard’s, the IO Metro furniture store, $700 worth of purchases at Joe’s Tires, a payment to an auto detail shop and meals at the Flying Fish and Sushi Cafe.

* APRIL: Another busy month, with 18 expenditures of more than $100, all adding up to $4,970, to be reimbursed. These included payments to Dillard’s, a credit card company, $650 to Bookout himself, Diamond Liquor, meals at Outback, Loca Luna, Red Door, more Steamroller Blues purchases, Home Deot and Hibbetts Sporting Goods charges and several payments to individuals, purposes not specified. Some individuals turned up in other months, too. Total counting unitemized: $6,207.

* MARCH: Bookout will reimburse $6,027 in expenditures incurred this month, including $1,950 he paid himself, plus purchases at Steamroller Blues, Gearhead Outfitters, Dillard’s and more. Total: $6,027.

* FEBRUARY: Only $739 to be reimbursed for purchases at the Apple store and two shoe stores in Little Rock, plus some unitemized expenditures.

Why did Bookout spend so much from campaign money? The answer could be to live beyond his means.

Bookout, 51, in addition to being a state senator lists his employment as administrative director of system relations for St. Bernards Healthcare in Jonesboro. His wife is employed as a school counselor, his statement of financial interest for 2012 indicates.

That statement indicates the Bookouts had no business or investment — bank account, stock, mutual fund, real estate, business — worth more than $1,000.

But he did have a campaign checking account and credit card.

PS — In case you’re late arriving, here’s my story earlier today on the Ethics Commission reprimand and maximum fines against Bookout for his multiple violations of campaign finance law. Prosecution would be up to the prosecutors. They should take a look. Didn’t they just send Jesse Jackson Jr. to federal prison for spending campaign money on himself?

Prosecutor Scott Ellington of Jonesboro HAS told Roby Brock he’ll review the case.