by Max Brantley
Still, Pat O'Brien, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, raises a good issue. He discloses all his expense reimbursement in six years as the county/circuit clerk (about $4,800) and challenges his Republican opponent, Mark Martin, to do the same for his legislative draw. Martin is the king of legislative expenses, knocking down $56,290 in 2009 alone on top of his legislative paycheck. It's an interesting phenomenon. Martin is one of several Republican legislators over the years who seem to exist without visible means of support beyond haunting the halls of the Capitol for per diem, expenses and invitations to dinner with lobbyists. (Martin has an engineering consulting business based in his home.) They still manage to live pretty well — if the restaurants they frequent, the cars they drive and the electronic gear they possess are any measure. Jim Holt, of course, was the template.
If the Republican Party's political stunt of FOI'ing some auto expense records that have already been worked over to a fare-thee-well (and are readily accessible by subpoena) is a frontpage story in the Democrat-Gazette, I'd say O'Brien's call for accountability from Mark Martin is worth at least a paragraph or two.
UPDATE: Martin responds indignantly and notes O'Brien failed to include his $650 a month car allowance in his expenses. Martin was doing the people's work in attending all those committees on which he doesn't sit, he says. Perhaps. But it's also true that he's famous among other Republicans for excusing himself from party functions on the excuse that he has to go claim some per diem. Martin also is making it known that the Republican Party has sent O'Brien a blunderbuss FOI request along the lines of "Produce all documents that prove you beat your mother." Makes me want to ask for documents from some Republican ethics paragons — Executive Director Chase Dugger for a copy of that $35,000 check he reportedly signed for his pal John Burris and Party chair Doyle Webb for the records on the little old lady's estate that got plundered.
O'BRIEN NEWS RELEASE
Pulaski Circuit/County Clerk and Secretary of State nominee, Pat O’Brien of Jacksonville, today released a summary of his travel reimbursement records for his entire tenure in office starting in January, 2005. During the last six years, O’Brien was been reimbursed for $4,805.67 in travel related expenses. O’Brien challenged his opponent, Mark Martin, to make a similar disclosure.
“This is about accountability and full disclosure,” stated O’Brien, “The public deserves to know how much money their elected officials charge them. The public also deserves to know what is received in return.” O’Brien noted that for just the year 2009 Martin had charged taxpayers $56,290.00 for reimbursements in addition to his legislative salary. “That is more money than the average Arkansas family of four makes.”
O’Brien charged that Rep. Martin has routinely billed the taxpayers for reimbursements, per diem and mileage for attending committee meetings that he is not a member of. Martin is term-limited and is prohibited by law from serving in the Legislature after 2010. “The public deserves a full accounting from Rep. Martin,” said O’Brien.
A summary of Pat O’Brien’s travel reimbursements is attached here. If you have any questions about the press release, call Pat O’Brien at (501) 258-0548 or visit the campaign website at www.PatOBrienforArkansas.com.