by Max Brantley
The secretary of state's race is another indication of Arkansas politics taking on the scorched-earth tenor of national elections with the rise of Republicanism here.
Mark Martin, the Republican candidate, made the wholly specious and wildly exaggerated claim yesterday that O'Brien had violated federal law by mailing 80 absentee ballots prepared erroneously by the Election Commission. (They lacked the sufficient number of Jacksonville alderman races.) Martin demanded that it be corrected. It already had been corrected
O'Brien is back today with his own jab — at Martin's conflation of home, business and campaign office addresses and phone numbers and the whopping $1,350 he gets taxpayers to pay himself monthly for supposedly using his private business office for a state legislative office. I asked Martin's campaign yesterday how much he paid to lease this very modest space — check Google for 9310 Wagon Wheel Road, Springdale (CORRECTION TO ORIGINAL ADDRESS, DON'T KNOW WHERE EARLIER NUMBER CAME FROM) — that he re-leases to himself and how long he had leased it. No answers. According to O'Brien, Martin couldn't even remember the address when asked by another reporter. It's hard to see how Martin has much private business, given how many days he charges taxpayers for per diem running down to the Capitol. He knocks down more than $70,000 a year from the state taxpayers.
Much more is to come. We'll hear about O'Brien's clean underwear policy for county employees, no doubt. I hope we hear more about some of Martin's nuttier ideas, such as legislating religion into school curriculum. Actually, I wish the election was tomorrow.
O'BRIEN NEWS RELEASE
Pulaski Circuit/County Clerk and Secretary of State nominee, Pat O’Brien of Jacksonville, today charged that his opponent, Rep. Mark Martin, is utilizing his taxpayer subsidized business and home office as his campaign office thereby abusing the public trust and violating state law. O’Brien is demanding that Rep. Martin start answering questions of whether he crossed the line and illegally used taxpayer money for his campaign.
“Are the taxpayers of Arkansas subsidizing Rep. Martin’s campaign for Secretary of State?” asked O’Brien, “When you piece together reports from the Associated Press and BlueHogReport.com, it appears that Rep. Martin is receiving taxpayer money that pays his mortgage, his business and even his campaign. Rep. Martin has some explaining to do.”
Rep. Martin lists his campaign address as 123 N. Pittman Street, Prairie Grove, Arkansas on his Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Reports on file at the Secretary of State’s office. That address is also Rep. Martin’s home address. Rep. Martin purports to run a business titled “M3 Engineering, Inc.” The State of Arkansas reimbursed “M3 Engineering, Inc.” $16,200.00 in 2009 for “office expenses.” The invoices from that entity list 123 N. Pittman Street, Prairie Grove, Arkansas as its place of business. In short, prior to yesterday, all public documents listed 123 N. Pittman Street as the home address, business address and campaign address for Mark Martin.
On Wednesday, Rep. Martin for the first time declared that he has a separate business address. He listed this address as 9310 E. Wagon Wheel Road, Springdale, Arkansas. Records show this building is occupied by Kimbel Mechanical Systems. Kimbel Mechanical Systems donated $500.00 to the Martin campaign on July 26, 2010.
“Why did this mysterious business office suddenly appear on the same day that media sources were questioning Rep. Martin’s use of taxpayer funds for his campaign for Secretary of State,” said O’Brien, “Is this really his business office? When did it become his business office? Mark needs to answer these questions.” According to an Associated Press report, Rep. Martin claims that the Wagon Wheel address has been his business office for four years. However, when asked for an address by the reporter he had to look up the address because he did not know it offhand.
“I hope Rep. Martin does not try to use the excuse of ‘this is what everybody else does’. He is running for a statewide office and the taxpayers of Arkansas deserve a better answer than that,”said O’Brien.In stark contrast to what Rep. Martin did, Pat O’Brien opened a separate campaign office when he announced his bid for Secretary of State. The office is located at 524 N. First Street, Jacksonville, Arkansas. None of the expenses at the campaign office are connected in any way to taxpayer funds. O’Brien charged that when Rep. Martin announced his statewide bid he should have opened a separate campaign office and made the distinction between taxpayer funding and campaign funding crystal clear.
“This is now the second time in one week where Rep. Martin has been exposed for profiting off of reimbursements paid by the Arkansas taxpayer.”
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.