Attorney General Leslie Rutledge talks a good game on government ethics, but her delivery could better.
She created a public ethics division more than a year ago. Since then, it’s landed one fish, a small town South Arkansas mayor who lied about having a clean criminal record when he filed for office. It has been dragging its feet on a report it received that a supporter of a Republican legislative candidate had offered a $20,000 scholarship to the daughter of another candidate to get out of the race.
Now comes Michael Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette with a report that Rutledge is 10 months overdue in filling a seat she controls on the Arkansas Ethics Commission. The problem seems to be that it falls to this appointment, on account of state law, that Rutledge must appoint a Democrat and a person of minority race to the seat. I’m guessing there’s no suitable DINO that she’s willing to put her name on.
As state law has it, a previous appointee may remain in the seat until a successor is named. The seat holder happens to be the redoubtable Sybil Hampton, former head of the Rockefeller Foundation. This is OK by me. She’s upright, a friend and a font of good information, particularly in the realm of education. The other four Ethics Commission members are white Republicans so Hampton provides some needed diversity.
A spokesman for Rutledge claimed she’d met with a number of potential members. Apparently, just the perfectly warm bowl of porridge hasn’t been served up yet. Hampton said she was happy to continue to serve because she is “committed to the work.”
Here’s another idea for Wickline. Do some digging into the amount of money Rutledge is spending on TV and radio advertising that features her name and image, including expensive Razorback football exposure. What is she running for? Republicans used to press former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on his spending on “public service announcements.” They should be as diligent in questioning Rutledge. Is she running for Arkansas Supreme Court? In a couple of weeks, we’ll have the answer when filing opens. If she does run, it will be interesting to see if she continues to use Political Service Announcements financed by tax dollars during the campaign period. She’s an ethics crusader, after all.