TED AND REP. MARY BENTLEY: New details on a run-in with the law.
The U.S. Forest Service
responded by certified mail today to my Freedom of Information Act request for information on tickets given to Ted Bentley
, husband of Republican state Rep. Mary Bentley
, for Forest Service rules violations.
As I reported earlier, a Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer
, who accompanied a Forest Service officer who issued two tickets, said that he encountered Mary Bentley at their Perry County home Oct. 18 in looking for her husband. She seemed to attempt to use her position to influence officers. As we reported:
Game and Fish Officer Robert Stout accompanied forest service Officer Hugh Davis to the Bentleys home. According to his report, Rep. Bentley said to them, "...we (officer Davis and I) need to be real careful, that times were tough and money was tight and that they (House) are looking for places to get money for funding and the Game and Fish Commission would be a good place to look."
The Forest Service report doesn't quote Mary Bentley. But it says that Ted Bentley, who once ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in Perry County, wasn't happy. He was "irritated," the report said. He waved his arms around, complained about paying "mother fucking" taxes and at one point reportedly told the officer to "kiss my groin." Neither Mary Bentley's reported remarks nor Bentley's unhappiness dissuaded the officer. He issued Bentley a $200 ticket for riding an ATV on a closed Forest Service road and a $300 ticket for baiting for wildlife on a wildlife management area. Davis had earlier, in response to a report of shooting over a baited area, found a tree stand for shooting, corn scattered on the ground and trees cut to create "shooting lanes" to the baited area. A camera caught a photo of a man later identified as Bentley removing the tree stand, and that led to the visit to the Bentley home.
The Bentleys have not returned my calls and e-mails. But my telephone inquiry to the automated line at the Central Violations Bureau, which handles misdemeanor ticket payment, indicates the tickets were paid Nov. 8. The recording also made reference to a hearing scheduled Dec. 17, but that's apparently a glitch in the system. There is no hearing. The tickets have been paid, the Justice Department says.
Several Republicans have brushed off reports about the Bentley encounter because it was reported in the Arkansas Times
. For the record — again — I'll provide an official law enforcement report in its entirety that is the basis for the reporting. This report redacts the names of both Bentleys and the wildlife officers under an exemption allowed for personal privacy consideration. I've appealed that decision, primarily because the Bentleys and officers were already identified on a state report released under the FOI with an identical recitation of events. What's more, I used the name "Ted Bentley," with the ticket number on the redacted report, to look up the payment record at the Central Violations Bureau.
The report notes that the Forest Service officer made a body camera recording of his encounter with the Bentleys. I have again requested a copy. Perhaps Representative Bentley would demand release to clear the air.
Here's a copy of one of the tickets. The writeups were identical for each of the two separate violations.
Here's the full document.
I expect someone to seek an Ethics Commission determination
on whether Mary Bentley crossed a line in seeming to attempt to use her office for benefit of a family member (if unsuccessfully).