by Max Brantley
As you know, a settlement of the Arkansas Public Law Center lawsuit over legislative expense payments was approved yesterday by Judge Chris Piazza. I was a plaintiff in the suit and I'm a board member of the nonprofit organization.
This should end the practice of legislators inventing personal LLCs and consulting companies and the like to submit undocumented bills for pay enhancements. As the Law Center's news release noted, our interest was future accountability, not exacting a pound of flesh out of legislators, who, with few exceptions, abused the expense process for extra money. We sought no repayment of past expense payments.
But a correspondent notes that legislators have other loose ends highlighted by the settlement, in which the named defendants — and by extension dozens of others — admitted the payments amounted to unconstitufional pay enhancements.
1) Did all legislators who received payments through LLCs, consulting companies and the like, report that income on their annual statements of financial interest? I can tell you from a quick look that many did not. Remember, the state paid those consulting companies and the companies in turn reimbursed the legislators. Wink, wink.
2) Did all legislators who received these payments report them as taxable income to state and federal tax collectors? That's something only they and their accountants know.