O'Brien Attack Add Highly Selective in it's Outrage
The spittle practically leaps forth from the screen in Pat O'Brien's latest attack ad. O'brien is the Pulaski County Clerk (and Campaign Director of Obama's Arkansas effort) who is running for Secretary of State against State Representative (and House Minority Whip) Mark Martin of Prairie Grove. To the knowledgeable observer however, the selectivity of O'Brien's outrage is more offensive than anything he would like us to get outraged about.
He practically makes it seem like Martin is stealing from the taxpayers when he complains that Martin billed the state for using his home as an office. My guess is that the Democrats in the legislature are not going to appreciate Hot Dog for beating on this drum, since to my knowledge every last one of them bills the state in the same way for either their home or for an office that they would have to pay for anyway. If there is even one legislator from either party who does it differently, then I'd like someone to tell me who they are. If this expense reimbursement policy is somehow wrong, O'Brien should direct his hissy-fit in the direction of the legislators in his own party who control 3/4ths of the ledge and make these and all other rules by which it is run.
In the same way, I call B.S. on his efforts to cast Martin's mileage reimbursements as some kind of shady deal. He is House Minority Whip and he lives a long way from Little Rock. A dutiful Whip is going to show up at the important committee hearings, even if he is not on the committee. The job of the Whip is to make sure all members of the party, in all committees, stick to the party line. Again, this is the system that the Democrats set up. And it is the Democrats who ultimately get to decide committee assignments. If members can't get reimbursed for attending committee meetings that they are not a member of, then the average GOP legislator can get stuck on the Paper Clip Committee and have to pay out of his own pocket for travel to the Education Committee meetings. All but a few favored sons would be all but shut out of important state business.
Come to think of it, when they had the Ed. Committee meeting in Fayetteville on the eve of a Razorback game, a couple of Democrat legislators who were not members of that Committee showed up. I wonder if O'Brien is going to turn his sights on them?
I am not offering an "everybody does it" defense of Martin's actions. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with the actions. There is nothing wrong with legislators getting an expense account for an office, or in having that office in the home. In the computer age, they will probably get more work done if their office is a room in their own home. In the same way, there is nothing wrong with getting reimbursed for mileage to committee meetings, even those you don't sit on, as long as you are serving a legitimate public purpose at those meetings. Mark Martin live-blogged most of those meetings, and put the results up on his blog for the world to see. He spilled so many beans that the Dems tried to shut him down for a while. Now O'Brien is carrying on like the whole thing was just a scam. If its a scam, go after the people who designed the scam and are mostly profiting from it- the Democrats who run the legislature.
Pat O'Brien did a fine job of straightening out a real mess at the Pulaski County Clerk's office. He is to be commended for that, but his competence there does not undo his dishonesty here. The use of selective outrage by distorting the legitimate use of public funds is going to earn him a lot of enemies even among Democrats. And the idea that the guy who ran Obama's campaign in Arkansas in 08 is really this upset about how well $71,000 of taxpayer money was spent is ludicrous. His guy just gave us our second $1.3 TRILLION dollar deficit.