Matt Campbell, the Little Rock attorney behind Blue Hog Report, yesterday filed a petition for judicial review of the Arkansas Ethics Commission’s recent decision on the matter of state Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s questionable campaign finance reports.
Last week, Milligan paid a $400 fine to settle four violations of state ethics rules stemming from Campbell’s complaint. The complaint, originally filed in August, contained allegations of a number of additional ethics violations, including improper reporting of campaign contributions by Milligan. But in September, the Ethics Commission said Milligan could raise an “affirmative defense” to these allegations based on a 2015 law allowing public officials a 30 day window to correct an “unintentional error” on a finance report once it’s pointed out.
The gist of Campbell’s petition for judicial review: The provision that allowed Milligan to amend his reports was passed in 2015, but the reports in question were filed in 2014. The bill allowing public officials to claim an affirmative defense in the case of “unintentional errors” wasn’t retroactive.
Thus, Campbell says, the Ethics Commission shouldn’t have applied the 2015 law to Milligan’s situation. He’s asking the Pulaski County Circuit Court to reverse the decision.
Aside from the retroactivity question, it can’t be stated enough that the 2015 statute is an insult to the very idea of a meaningful ethics law, as Max has said again and again. When would a public official not claim a campaign finance was in error after being caught?