Arkansas Senate suspends GOP colleague for filing frivolous ethics complaint
Accused senator did not attend the meeting, saying he was in a pre-planned vacation and his attorneys were not able to attend either.
(The Center Square) -
The Arkansas Senate voted to suspend Republican state Sen. Alan Clark from the body for the rest of the session and stripped him of his seniority for the next session during a heated business meeting Tuesday.
Clark was accused of filing a 'frivolous, spurious and retaliatory" ethics complaint against Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, for receiving per diem reimbursement for a meeting she attended online.
Flowers repaid the per diem she received, but Clark refused to withdraw his complaint, even though he voted with other members of the Senate Ethics Committee who said Flowers did nothing wrong.
Clark was disciplined by the Ethics Committee in July for having another Sen. Mark Johnson, R-Little Rock, sign him into a meeting he did attend. Clark was not paid per diem for attending the meeting.
Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Kim Hammer, R-Benton, read several social media posts from Clark that Hammer said indicated Clark was out for revenge.
The Senate noted at least one other senator collected per diem erroneously. Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, said he was the other senator during Tuesday's hearing. But Clark only filed a complaint against Flowers and said he was prepared to file ethics complaints against 30-32 other senators, according to testimony.
Clark's absence from the committee was a major topic during the lengthy debate. Clark was on what he called a pre-planned vacation and his attorneys were not able to attend either.
A motion from Garner to postpone the meeting until Clark could attend was denied.
"All of us have made sacrifices to be here today," said Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy. "Everybody in this room has sacrificed their time, especially if you are on the Ethics Committee. He made a decision, and a conscious one, not to be here today."
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, said if Clark had withdrawn his complaint, the process would have stopped.
"Sen. Clark has controlled this from the beginning," Sullivan said.
The Senate voted 26 to 4, with one abstaining to bump Clark from seniority level 12 to 35 for the entire 94the session of the General Assembly. The vote was the same on his suspension.
Clark will also lose Senate privileges, including his Senate email account, access to legislative facilities and no reimbursement for travel or conference attendance for the rest of this session, which ends Jan. 8. The suspension is effective immediately.
Clark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.