OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
An Arkansas State senator is being denied access to Senate offices and legislative meetings after it was determined that he made a frivolous ethics complaint against a colleague.
It was decided by a 26 – 4 vote by a Republican majority legislature to suspend GOP Sen. Alan Clark until January 8, 2023, the end of its session, The Associated Press reported.
The Senate earlier this month rejected a complaint Clark had filed against Democratic Sen. Stephanie Flowers accusing her of improperly receiving per diem payments for legislative meetings she attended via Zoom.
The ethics panel ruled that Clark had filed the complaint as retaliation after the Senate stripped him and another lawmaker of their leadership posts after Clark sought reimbursement for a meeting he didn’t attend.
“The committee felt that the comments and actions of Senator Clark, including bringing these ethics petitions for the purpose of retaliation, were bringing dishonor and disruption to the institution of the Senate,” Republican Sen. Kim Hammer, the ethics committee chair, said.
State Sen. Clark did not attend the hearing because he said he had a trip planned with his family, but he accused the state Senate of punishing him for being a whistleblower.
“How can we be expected to fight corruption and wrongdoing in government if we can’t reveal and stand against our own questionable behavior?” he said. “I am saddened for this body that I love, more than anything else.”
“Rules the Senate adopted during the coronavirus pandemic allowed members to participate remotely, but not receive per diem funds. Flowers had not requested the payments and repaid the money in August after she realized she had received them because of a clerical error, the ethics committee found,” the report said.
— Stan Americana (@americana_stan) September 28, 2022
“The ethics committee cited comments Clark made before filing the complaint on social media and a picture that circulated of him wearing a scarlet ‘E’ — similar to the scarlet ‘A’ worn as punishment for adultery in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter — at a Republican Party event after he was sanctioned by the Senate,” the report said.
Ethics has been an issue in the news recently. In August the judge in charge of the lawsuit for the raid on former President Donald Trump’s house had his own ethics issue.
The group, Tea Party Patriots Action, which has long held sway within conservative circles, has filed a federal complaint against Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart for signing off on the Mar-a-Lago raid.
In the lengthy complaint, which was filed with the Judicial Council of the 11th Circuit Court, Tea Party Patriots CEO Jenny Beth Martin argued that Reinhart has it in for the former president which is why he should not have been involved at all in approving the warrant.
“Judge Reinhart has a conflict of interest and a pattern and history of hostility to President Trump,” said the filing. It went on to include a number of instances where Reinhart attacked Trump on social media as well as documenting his financial donations to critics of the 45th president including Barack Obama and one of Trump’s 2016 GOP challengers, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, according to the Washington Examiner.
Martin not only wants Reinhart taken off the case, but removed from the bench altogether.
“Judge Reinhart should be disciplined and removed as a federal magistrate because of his failure to meet the standards of ethical conduct and character necessary for the public to have confidence in the nonpartisan role of a judge in a matter of this extreme public interest,” says the sixth of seven charges listed in the ethics complaint, the outlet reported, adding:
In the meantime, critics of his earlier action to OK the search for classified documents inside the resort have dug up ample evidence of Reinhart’s anti-Trump liberal past, including donations and social media attacks. Martin also cited a case involving Hillary Clinton in which Reinhart recused himself as an example that he should have followed in the Mar-a-Lago case.
“The entire episode of the unprecedented search of the former president’s home, authorized by a political appointee of President Trump’s successor, and approved by a federal magistrate who has been outspoken in his opposition to and loathing of President Trump threatens the principle of ‘equal justice under law’ and the confidence of the American people in an unbiased judiciary,” the complaint added.