by Max Brantley
Michael Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today updated the situation on legislative "expense" reimbursement practices. A scant few legislators apparently hear the footsteps of disgruntled constituents and potential lawsuits over the naked practice of enhancing their constitutionally limited pay with monthly expense checks, dubiously justified through bills from essentially non-existent family "consulting" firms and the like. A few of them aren't taking the money or are taking less than they once drew.
This one is easy to condense. No legislator should be paid a dime that isn't substantiated by an itemized expense report. That's the way it goes in most private businesses.
The standard complaint from legislators is that they couldn't afford to serve if limited to constitutional pay levels (so they've found a scam to bump pay from $15,000 to $50,000). Again, easy solution: Raise the constitutional limit or don't serve.
This is a bipartisan scandal, by the way. A self-proclaimed House Republican ethics paragon is among those who cooked up a phony consulting business to justify her monthly draw.