Matt Campbell at Blue Hog Report beat me to the punch with a blog post today that asserts what I plan to write in a column for the Times next week: City Director Stacy Hurst is undeserving of a vote for state House of Representatives against Democrat Clarke Tucker.
I have a number of reasons to list, many of them mirrored in Campbell’s continued digging into the dirty politicking that has been the hallmark of Republican Hurst’s campaign. (That and the disingenuous claim that she’ll part company with the Republican Party in voting.)
Blue Hog has some news, too.
* APOLOGY FOR USE OF A CHILD AS A POLITICAL WEAPON: Campbell attended a meeting at Forest Park school at which Little Rock School Superintendent Dexter Suggs apologized to Tucker’s family for the disservice done them by the Little Rock School District.
Dishonest and/or bumbling school officials — conniving with Hurst backers, including School Board member Leslie Fisken — participated in a little scheme by which Hurst and her henchmen hoped to use Tucker’s four-year-old son as a campaign weapon. It is now clear from Blue Hog’s FOI work that Tucker’s child not only didn’t get special treatment in school assignments for nursery school, the Tuckers were penalized in the assignment process and lied to by school officials. The continued employment of two district employees should be a topic for serious School Board consideration as a result of what Blue Hog has revealed. Fisken owes the Tuckers an apology for abuse of her public office. She also should resign.
* REPREHENSIBLE DEMAGOGUERY: It’s hard to top using a four-year-old to throw political mud. But Hurst’s demagoguery of pro bono legal work done by Tucker has managed to do it.
Long story short. Tucker has taken one criminal case in his successful legal career. He represented the relative of a woman his mother had long been helping. An anonymous mailer on the case was the leading edge of this attack, which Hurst’s campaign had been planning for months. Hurst initially disavowed a connection with the anonymous mailer. Then she proceeded to gleefully begin using the issue, on the pretext, basically, that Tucker had opened the door by defending himself. Her latest use of the issue, paid for by the Republican Party, is a Willie Horton-style mailer.
Tucker did what lawyers do — represented a client at a sentencing hearing. The client received probation in a negotiated plea. The prosecuting attorney agreed. The judge agreed. For this, Hurst has made Tucker out to be evil. If so, I hope she’ll be calling for the ouster of the prosecutor and judge, too. Her campaign material also is disingenuous in saying that after Clarke Tucker represented this desperado, he was arrested. Yes, and also acquitted in a jury trial. Remember that old concept — innocent until proven guilty?
The facts of the case hardly matter, but they’re all here. If the Constitution still has meaning (never a certainty when Republicans are involved) even hardened criminals are entitled to a lawyer. Clarke Tucker did a favor for his mother in representing a criminal defendant who, by agreement of prosecutor and judge, qualified for a probationary sentence.
Stacy Hurst is one of a growing line of mostly Republican candidates who essentially make the case that criminal defense lawyers shouldn’t hold public office. It is — to use Matt’s word and a word I used in Friday’s podcast — reprehensible. Also un-American. A politician with such low regard for the Constitution is undeserving of election.
I think something Clarke said about it will prove correct. To attack a lawyer for doing his job reflects not only lack of understanding of the Constitution. “It also demonstrates a lack of respect for the intelligence of the voters of Arkansas House District 35, who are smart enough to understand that good lawyers at times take pro bono criminal cases in their careers, and that does not make the lawyers responsible for the sins of their clients. To the contrary, it likely gives the lawyers insights into the criminal justice system that could be useful in a law-making capacity.”
Standing note: I have long and varied connections with Clarke Tucker and his family and my wife is a financial supporter of his campaign. I’d hope if he tried to use Stacy Hurst’s child or profession against her, I’d be equally outraged. He hasn’t.
PS: Clarke Tucker spoke at a Democratic rally with Bill Clinton today. He posted this on Facebook:
“We can send a message in Arkansas this year that politics can still be noble, that we embrace hope over fear, and that we believe not only in the greatness of our people, but also in their inherent goodness.”
The Arkansas Republican Party believes in fear. Thrives on it. Here’s one race to just say NO.