Stu Soffer is a Republican Jefferson County Election Commission official who’s prone to get entangled in political intrigue — including when he drew a gun after a commission meeting.
Now comes the case of the smoking e-mail, shown above. It’s a product of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Lawrence Walker of Little Rock, a lawyer and ally of one of Soffer’s political opponents in Pine Bluff. Walker says Soffer didn’t respond fully to his FOI request for e-mail related to his duties as election commissioner and as proof produced e-mails Soffer had been compelled to produce in the lawsuit between David Singer, another Republican Party official, and Singer’s former employer, state Treasurer Dennis Milligan. Without getting into all that entanglement, suffice it to say that the e-mail above sounds an awful lot like a scheme to trade votes for a job for Singer. It’s unknown whether that idea was ever attempted.
Brandon Mulder of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette asked Soffer about the rank appearance of the thing in an article in this morning’s paper. He got this response:
“You got to understand that I’m a New Yorker, and my wording in that is inappropriate,” Soffer said Wednesday in reference to the email. “When I said I have the prosecuting attorney ready to take action, what I should have said was ‘I have documents to send to the prosecuting attorney.’ I was overspeaking.”
Damyankee. (Also: See comments for a lengthier response from Soffer.)
General observation: Overspeaking is not, so far as I’m aware, an affirmative defense to attempting to improperly influence a public servant. In some cases, it might be the very definition.
Soffer’s exposure for evading full response to the FOI lawsuit and the unflattering discovery are amusing if for no other reason than his inclination to throw legal technicalities and threats of legal action around himself.
UPDATE: Soffer’s travails have prompted Vince Insalaco, chairman of the state Democratic Party, to call for Republicans to replace Soffer on the state Election Commission.
Today, I call on state Republican Chairman Doyle Webb to use his legal authority to appoint a new member to the State Board of Election Commissioners  replacing the current, controversial appointee Stuart Soffer. Soffer currently serves as an election commissioner in Jefferson County. Most recently, Soffer made news when he pulled a handgun on a former election commissioner after a public meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners.
Soffer’s term on the board will soon expire. Chairman Webb has the opportunity to appoint a member to conduct official business professionally and without intimidation.
“Public servants should have the temperament and restraint to make clear decisions, behave professionally, and treat voters with the respect they deserve. Violence, and threats of violence, have no place in our election process. Publically pulling a gun on an unarmed man should disqualify Stuart Soffer from serving on any election commission, ever.”
UPDATE II: A little gun play and political shenanigans including the appearance of trading votes for jobs doesn’t bother Arkansas Republican Chair Doyle Webb even a little bit:
Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb appointed Stu Soffer to serve a second term on the State Board of Election Commissioners.
“Stu is one of the most knowledgeable election commissioners in the state. Because of his commendable service in the U.S. Army and his overwhelming amount of experience with elections worldwide, Stu is a great asset to the Republican Party and election commissioners across the state. I am pleased to appoint Stu to serve a second term on the State Election Board,” said RPA Chairman Webb. “Stu is to be commended for his untiring work as in seeing that election laws are enforced to secure fair and honest elections.”