by Max Brantley
KARK reports that Prosecutor Cody Hiland of Conway will seek to remove Kenney Cassell from office as Searcy County sheriff for a misdemeanor federal conviction in 1979 for possession of stolen cornish hens. Cassell, like Hiland, a Republican, admits his past and notes that he disclosed it to voters when he ran. Hiland said the Arkansas Supreme Court case law is clear; that a conviction of this nature requires removal from office.
I think Hiland is right. Small-time theft (campaign signs in one case) has been held a disqualification by the Supreme Court. Absent a pardon or other clearing of a record, a conviction is a conviction, no matter the age.
This raises again the issue of whether Republican state Rep. Josh Johnston of Rosebud, who reportedly was convicted in 1995 on a hot check charge, will seek re-election and whether Republican officials will object if he does. The report on his past came after his first election. I got a no-comment from the Republican Party on that question last week.