Matt Campbell’s Blue Hog is still sniffing up problems with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and State Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s decision to campaign for Mike Huckabee on office time: Namely, their claim that they were “on personal leave.”  

Campbell has already pointed out that Arkansas public servants may not campaign during office hours, and he has filed a complaint with the state Judicial Ethics Commission over Rutledge and Milligan’s trip to Iowa Jan. 28-Feb. 1. But, they said, they weren’t in the office, they were on leave.

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Funny thing about that position, however, is that it is a lie that is premised on something that is literally impossible, because constitutional officers do not have any form of unpaid leave available to them.

Under the Arkansas Constitution, constitutional officers “shall be paid” a set amount of salary per year. Thus, whether that officer is sick and takes a week off, travels to the moon, or decides “screw it … I’m heading to Belize for a month,” so long as the person is not removed from office, they are paid their full annual salary on a bi-weekly basis.

More importantly, perhaps, the uniform leave rules for state employees specifically do not apply to the constitutional officers. So, in terms of how the state does payroll, there is no way for a constitutional officer to request, track, or input leave in a way that would deduct from their salary.

To verify this theory, I requested leave records from the AG’s office and the Treasurer’s office for the relevant period of time. I specifically requested all records relating to leave taken by Ms. Rutledge or Mr. Milligan.

Neither office showed any leave taken by their constitutional boss.

Blue Hog finds the claims deeply ironic in that in 2001, when their man Huckabee was governor, he said Democratic legislators had violated the campaign restriction when they held a workday press conference to say the troubled AASIS (the Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System) should be dismantled. Jason Brady, who now works for Milligan, filed Huckabee’s complaint with the Ethics Commission over the press conference.

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