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Baking up a profit

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Rep. Ed Garner of Maumelle has always been something of an unlikely Tea Party favorite with his government accountability talk because of his own sketchy record.

He's turned up periodically on state records for failure to remit withholding and sales taxes at his Mama's Manna bakery. Turns out Mama's Manna has been even more profitable than we knew for Garner, and not because of temporary savings on taxes due.

We've discovered that he charges his campaign account, with carryover money from his last election, $600 a month for use of space in the bakery. He's term-limited and so has no continuing campaign expenses as a state representative.

It's a close call whether Garner can charge a campaign account for use of his business in this manner, but it becomes a closer call still when you review the expense reimbursement forms that legislators submit every month. Mama's Manna submits an invoice every month to the state House for reimbursement of $2,350 for "legislative services for state Rep. Ed Garner." These unitemized requests for reimbursement are being challenged in a lawsuit that contends they are unconstitutional salary supplements.

Constitution, law and ethics aside, Ed Garner is claiming $2,950 a month, or almost $36,000 a year, for supposed use of space in his bakery, a modest space at 1001 Rushing Circle in Little Rock. He's not returned our calls to ask how he justifies it. Perhaps his likely Republican primary opponent in a race for Senate next year, Rep. David Sanders, will get a chance to ask.

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