SEN. BOB BALLINGER (file photo): Lead sponsor of SB 24. Brian Chilson

Please read a column in the Carroll County News by managing editor Scott Loftis responding to Sen. Bob Ballinger’s explanation for news of his state income tax delinquency — the sacrifice he has had to make economically for public service.

There are many choice parts in Loftis’ letter to Ballinger feigning sympathy for poor ol‘ Bob, what with his home foreclosures, tax liens and all.:

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I hope you aren’t fretting about how this whole situation might look to the folks who voted you into office — a state legislator who preaches conservatism and personal responsibility but can’t seem to take care of his own finances. On the bright side, even if you can’t balance your own personal budget, you do get the opportunity to help decide how to spend the state’s money. You know, all that cash that comes in from folks paying their taxes.

The specifics of Ballinger’s claim of poverty are particularly ripe turf for Loftis:

As a citizen, I want you to know how much I appreciate your personal sacrifice. After all, you’re a licensed attorney who could make money hand over fist by doing legal work for folks like Oren Paris and Ecclesia College. Instead, you gave that all up to go to Little Rock and represent us! All for only a little bit more than $41,000 a year! Why, if that were a full-time job that would only be around $20 an hour! What do they think you are, a public school teacher? Or a police officer? Oh, I almost forgot. You do get a little spare change for mileage, per diem and expenses. But only 28 grand for a whole year in 2017? And I guess you do find time to do a little bit of legal work, since your latest Statement of Financial Interest indicates you earned at least $12,500 from the Story Law Firm in 2016. Off the top of my head, I’m coming up with a total income somewhere around $82,500, assuming that the $12,500 is all you earned from the law firm. (I know, I know. It might be much higher, but there’s no way for us to know).

I find it absolutely reprehensible that the state expects you to scrimp by on $82,500 a year and then turn around and hand them $1,700. Don’t they understand the sacrifices you are making?

Loftis said he’d “teared up” reading Ballinger’s comments to another newspaper about the sacrifices he’d made for public service. And he was inspired, he said. Much as Ballinger would be missed, Loftis said Ballinger had “struggled enough.” He closed.

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Give up that menial, low-paying job and go back to the private sector where you can make some easy money and maybe even pay your bills. We would miss you terribly, but we would never forget everything you did for us!

Do I hear a second?