Jon Comstock

Jon Comstock, a Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, is continuing his call for Arkansas legislators to provide voters with accountability for their spending in the unconstitutional and criminally marred General Improvement Fund pork barrel spending.

The GIF program allotted surplus money on a pro rata basis for legislators to spend on local projects. The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional local spending. Federal investigators have demonstrated it was further marred by kickbacks from some recipients to some legislators.

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Comstock, a former Walmart corporate lawyer who now runs a mediation service, has proposed public disclosure of the specifics of the spending. In a letter Monday to the new Select Committee on Senate Ethics, he made three suggestions on GIF and other topics worth repeating, even if all seem to be ignoring Comstock:

1. Pass a Resolution calling on all members of the Senate and House to self-publish a listing of all recipients of General Improvement Funds coordinated by each of them, the dollar amounts and date of each transaction since 2014 to the present.

2. Pass a resolution that acknowledges that the Legislature improvidently included in Issue 1 the transfer of court-rule-making authority from the Supreme Court to the Legislature – and for that reason, Issue 1 should receive a “No” vote from Arkansans.

3. Schedule public hearings and invite all relevant stakeholders – especially inclusive of members of the general public – and allow yourselves to be enlightened by their ethical concerns and experiences with State officeholders and/or employees. Further
policy making would likely follow.

Comstock acknowledges getting legislators to back off Issue 1, aimed at severely curtailing lawsuits for damages such as medical malpractice and nursing home neglect and giving legislature control of court rules, would be difficult.

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The Senate ethics committee members:  Sens. Larry Teague, D-Nashville; Lance Eads, R-Springdale; Ricky Hill, R-Cabot; Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View; Jason Rapert, R-Conway; David Wallace, R-Leachville; Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia; and Will Bond, D-Little Rock

Give them a ring or drop them a note. Let’s publish the GIF spending in all its glorious detail — from high school athletic warmups to fireworks shows to felonious handouts.

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Bledsoe has served 16 years in the legislature. Through a quirk in the term limits provision in the Constitution, engineered by convicted felon Jon Woods, she can be elected to another four-year term.