Sen. Joyce Elliott

As always happens, the rumors about why Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) was missing from the recent Senate Ethics Committee proceedings are way more fun and titillating than the real reason.

It wasn’t clandestine alliances with the defendants or even a whim to skip out on some of her legislative duties as her 2023 retirement from the Senate draws closer. It was just a scheduling issue; she had other meetings booked out of town.


The other members of the committee (Republicans Kim Hammer, David Wallace, Dan Sullivan, Mat Pitsch and Missy Irvin and Democrats Clarke Tucker and Stephanie Flowers) spent three days hearing testimony and deliberating on June 22, 23 and 27 before deciding that Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Ferndale) violated Senate rules by signing in Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale or Hot Springs, it’s a little iffy) for a June 3 Boys State meeting so that Clark could collect a $155 per diem fee plus 58.5 cents a mile roundtrip, despite not showing up. Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana) turned in the complaint against them.

All committee members present for the hearing voted to penalize both Clark and Johnson. The full Senate has to vote on the recommendations before any penalties go into effect.


Elliott had separate out-of-town meetings on the books during both weeks touched by the three days of meetings, and let committee Chair Hammer know ahead of time she wouldn’t be there. The Senate Ethics Committee is required by its own rules to meet and discuss ethics complaints within 10 days of them being filed, leaving virtually no wiggle room to accommodate already cemented plans.

Elliott was in Washington, D.C., on June 22 and 23 for meetings at the National Center on Education and the Economy, where she co-chairs the board of trustees.


She came back to Little Rock briefly and appeared at the Ban Off Our Bodies protest against the Arkansas abortion ban at the Capitol on Friday evening, June 24. Elliott headed to Atlanta the next morning for a meeting of the Southern Region Education Board.

See? Kind of boring.