Blue Hog Report, the investigative blog of Little Rock lawyer Matt Campbell, had a heckuva year in 2014. His work was pivotal in forcing the resignation from office of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and driving Circuit Judge Mike Maggio not only out of a race for Appeals Court but off the bench forever.
Today, he looks back on other investigative thrusts and notes some loose ends. The bottom line is that despite his best efforts, a number of the candidates he targeted won elections anyway.
Among the highlights:
* THE NAKED FORT SMITH POLICE: Blue Hog makes a good case for credit that his reporting ended a Fort Smith vice squad practice of getting naked, digitally penetrating suspected prostitutes and receiving hand jobs as techniques to make prostitution arrests.
* ATTORNEY GENERAL LESLIE RUTLEDGE: Yes, she was elected (though by the smallest margin of all the statewide Republican office winners) despite reporting on a variety of issues related to her experience, her work at DHS and her coordination with an outside election group on TV advertising. Campbell’s complaint on the coordinated TV ad (she appeared in an ad paid for by someone else who doesn’t report contributors) is a watershed event for the state Ethics Commission. It will find a violation and prohibit the practice in the future or we will have seen the end of any meaningful disclosure laws for political campaigns in Arkansas.
* SEN. JASON RAPERT: In his classic fashion, Blue Hog piles absolute command of the intricacies of the law to support his report that Rapert was guilty of multiple violations of campaign finance law in a fund-raising concert he held at UCA. He demolishes sketchy reporting by the Log Cabin Democrat in the process (it was under immense pressure from Rapert). It also holds Rapert consultant Ted Thomas up to a highly unflattering light for his defense of Rapert’s shoddy reporting. This is important because of continuing rumors that Thomas will be tapped by Asa Hutchinson as head of the state Finance and Administration Department. Until now, it has been rigorously nonpartisan and perhaps the most accessible and accountable agency of state government. Thomas’ record as a highly partisan campaign operative who doesn’t readily make himself available to questions will require a dramatic change if he is to fill Richard Weiss’ shoes.
* BEEBECARE: Yes, Blue Hog rains on Democrats, too. Here he recounts his belief that a $200 million contract awarded by the Beebe administration as part of the Medicaid expansion was set up to go to a pre-determined winner.
That Republican sweep? More for Blue Hog to check out. It’s not over until he says it’s over.