by Max Brantley
Chief Judge Larry Vaught of the Arkansas Court of Appeals says he has no plans to file a complaint with the state Ethics Commission over state Rep. Denny Altes' threatening remarks about holding up budgets on account of his unhappiness over unemployment benefits awarded to a former employee of his son's business.
“To be quite honest with you, I think Rep. Altes — and don’t take this wrong — is working from ignorance more than trying to do something wrong,” Vaught said. “But it’s been aired in the press, and that’s probably as far as it’s going to go as far as I’m concerned. If somebody else does (file a complaint), I don’t know.”
Here's what I wish. I wish the state Ethics Commission didn't prefer the filing of a signed, notarized complaint to initiate investigations. It totally discourages whistle blowing by all but the most fearless. I wish it would be more aggressive in independently taking notice of improper actions by public officials — as reported in news media — and getting to the bottom of episodes such as this. I also think Vaught is too kind to Altes, whose bullying — even if compounded by ignorance — is all too familiar on the part of legislators.