Bookout Fiasco Shows Compelling Need for Citizen Action
And those are just the ones who have been held accountable. Basically, if you want to be ruled by criminals, vote for Arkansas Democrats to maximize your chances. In many parts of the state otherwise decent people reflexively vote Democrat. In so doing they are empowering a corrupt organization which has a history of criminals obtaining high status within its structure, and its past time they came to terms with that.
Governor Mike Beebe did throw Shoffner under the bus, but has mumbled some excuses about the money that Bookout mis-appropriated was not taxpayer money. Please, the man was spending public money in his votes, and taking what amounts to personal bribes at the same time. It is not credible to believe that this did not affect his votes, but then Beebe has very little credibility on this issue anyway. While he tried to make lame excuses for Bookout, just prior to that he made a crazy attempt to lump Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin in the same category as convicted felon Shoffner because Martin committed the non-crime of hiring outside counsel to represent his office instead of turning his defense over to another corrupt Democrat, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
I would just ask all those respectable people out there who keep empowering state Democrats, if you are such good folks, why do you keep saddling this state with leadership from this gang whose members so consistently turn out to be dishonest, corrupt or even criminals? Do you hate Arkansas that you would continue to do such a thing? Isn't it time to prayerfully consider voting in accordance with who you claim you want to be?
Back to Bookout. The ethics commission fined him $8,000, but there is no way it should end there. He spent more like $50,000 of campaign money for personal use. If the "punishment" for being caught breaking the law is that you get fined a fraction of what you gained, then why not break the law? It appears that Bookout may try to shamelessly brazen it out and stay in office. That is a dis-service to the people of Jonesboro and to the institution of the Senate. The Senate has the ability to expel him if he does not agree to finally do the right thing and step down, but will they use it?
It appears that chum-ship will again trump honor and virtue in the Arkansas Senate. And that leads to the most compelling argument that our Democrat-voting friends can respond with when we ask them why they continue to empower such a dishonest group like state Democrats- at present the only alternative is state Republicans! As we saw on the vote to fund the implementation of Obamacare in the state (re-labeled as the so-called "Private Option") most Republican legislators are not above lying to their constituents. And since eight or nine house Republican legislators changed their vote (to support the scheme) in the last twenty hours of the ordeal, just about the time that Representative Richard Womack reported that a lobbyist offered him large campaign contributions to change his vote, one has to wonder if all of that last minute change-of-heart was really motivated by a desire for better government.
In short, if the Republicans are not going to do anything that much different from the Democrats, then why castigate someone for voting Democrat instead of Republican? Sadly, the behavior of most state Republicans in the legislature makes that a fair point. Consider for example, the Republican leader of the Senate, Micheal Lamoureux of Russellville (who tied for tenth on our list of "ten worst" legislators). When the Republican leader of the Senate was asked about possible consequences for Bookout he is reported to have replied "Paul Bookout is my friend."
I hope the Senator is not suggesting that because they are friends the law-breaker Bookout should continue to be one of the law-makers for the rest of us. I am not even asking for partisanship here, I am asking for justice. You can't have members who so blatantly break the law go unpunished but then demand that citizens respect and obey the laws that they pass. The Senate should hold a vote to rebuke if not expel from their number someone who has abused campaign contributions for personal gain to a degree not previously seen in this state.
I know I keep coming back to this story, but I just am amazed at how no one in the Republican Party, not Chairman Webb, not Senator Lamoureux, no one- came to the defense of Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin when he was slanderously accused by Governor Beebe of being like the felonious Shoffner in terms of impact on public trust when in fact Martin's actions were clearly within the law. Why is Lamoureux defending Democrat law-breaker Bookout in preference to possibly the most honest man in state government in the person of Republican Mark Martin?
That brings us back to that fair point about those who vote for Democrats saying that the alternative isn't very attractive either. The standard answer to that has been that my team is not as slimy as your team. The correct answer to that should be: Then help me build a new team, a grassroots team that is for Arkansas only and not run from Washington DC. Let's build a network of community groups, a network, not a hierarchy that can be bought off or captured at the top. We don't need either of these two corrupt parties that have taken turns running this nation into the ground and saddling our children with outrageous debt- at least not to pick our state legislators for us. We may still need them for the state-wide offices, but not for seats in the state legislature. And if we don't need them, why put 100% of our eggs in their basket?
We can find our own candidates and sponsor them as independents. That way they will know that they don't owe their office to a label managed from DC, but only to the people of their district. They will answer to us, not to the Governor, not to a party, but our representatives will represent us again, just like the Founders originally intended it.
I am my friends with our tiny activist group, The Localist Society of the Ozarks, are one of the founding members of just such a network, just such a coalition which is coming together to return the People's Branch to the people again, Neighbors of Arkansas. Perhaps your activist group can form a task force which will join us.