When Phil Wyrick stepped down from the Pulaski County Election Commission in March so that he could run for County Judge, it created a vacancy that, by law, was to be filled by the Pulaski County Republican Committee. That committee chose friend of BHR and employee of the Secretary of State, Alex Reed.
Sure, there were some questions about the propriety of an election commissioner also being a person who works for the constitutional officer tasked with overseeing elections, but, as the Democrat-Gazette reported, those concerns were brushed aside:
Reed said his service on the commission is not awkward or a conflict of interest.
Oh, ok. If Reed said it, then it must be true.1 Problem solved, right? Right!
Well…except for the part where Reed is actually ineligible by law to hold that position.
Under Arkansas law, certain people are prohibited from serving on a county election commission. Specifically, Ark. Code Ann. 7-4-109(c) states:
(1) A person who is a paid employee of a political party or of a candidate for office on that county’s ballot shall not be a member of a county board or an election official.
(2) (A) Except as provided in subdivision (c)(2)(B) of this section, a person serving on the county board shall not participate in the campaign of a candidate listed on that county’s ballot or of a write-in candidate seeking election in that county.
(B) A member of the county board may make a financial contribution to a candidate.
That seems logical and straightforward enough: if you are working for a candidate who is going to appear on the ballot in your county, then you can’t be a county election commissioner. So, for example, if you were working as the treasurer for someone who was vying for the AR-02 seat, you couldn’t be a commissioner in Saline, Perry, Conway, Van Buren, Faulkner, White, or Pulaski County.
foreshadowing – n. the act of providing vague advance indications; representing beforehand.
Which brings us to Ann Clemmer, who is battling Freedom Hill and Call-Me-Colonel Conrad Reynolds for the Republican nomination for AR-02. Right there on her most recent FEC filing, we see this:
And, of course, we know that “Roland Reed” is the same person as Alex Reed, both because we’ve mentioned it before and because Reed’s own statement of financial interest says as much. It also says this, which is just…something:
Anyway…if you scroll further down Ms. Clemmer’s FEC filing, you’ll see in Schedule B – Authorized Disbursements 27 disbursements to Roland Reed. Some of them are properly coded, but the vast majority are not coded at all. Then, almost as if to bump up both the level of WTF-ness and show the extent to which Reed is invested (literally) in the Clemmer campaign, the very end of the report shows a loan to Ms. Clemmer’s campaign from Reed in the amount of $20,007.83.
I have little doubt that Reed will come up with an “explanation” for all of this. Probably something along the lines of “accounting error” and a misunderstanding and how he is not actually being paid, but was just being reimbursed for things, and how the loan isn’t what it appears to be. That’s de rigueur for Reed.
Yet, look again at Ark. Code Ann. 7-4-109(c)(2)(A): it doesn’t matter if he’s being paid. He’s not allowed to participate in the campaign at all, regardless of whether he’s paid. And, by definition, he is “participating” if he is the treasurer, as the FEC specifies requirements and duties of campaign treasurers, including: filing, signing, and completing reports; depositing donations within 10 days of receipt; authorizing expenditures; monitoring contributions; and keeping records of contributions for three years following the campaign. Heck, a campaign cannot even raise money without having a named treasurer. For Reed to pretend like he’s not participating in Ms. Clemmer’s campaign would be absurd.
Even more absurd? Reed has been participating — in the role of treasurer — since before the first of the year, yet the Pulaksi County Republican Committee selected Reed to the Pulaski County Election Commission in March. There are a few possible explanations for this, none of them good:
1. Reed did not tell the Pulaski GOP that he was working for Ms. Clemmer;
2. The Pulaski GOP is unaware of the rules governing who is eligible to be on the commission;
3. The Pulaski GOP is aware of the rules, but they did not perform their due diligence and find out if Reed had any potentially disqualifying conflicts; or
4. Everyone was aware of everything, but they all chose to ignore this problem and hoped that it wouldn’t be an issue.
No matter which of those answers you pick, the result is unsettling at best.
Going one step further, though, and bringing all of this full-circle, you might recall Mark Martin’s campaign pledge from 2010, regarding how his office would not be political:
PROHIBITED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES:
Publicly endorse or oppose, or actively work for or against a candidate for an elected public office, a statewide ballot initiative, amendment, or referendum.
Not that anyone really trusts Mark Martin at his word by now, but still.