There is one thing the last three election cycles have taught us: Data. Is. King.
Campaigns spend a tremendous amount of time and resources identifying their voters, learning and studying their online habits, interests, and interactions. They then use that digital information to micro target voters in hopes of swaying the outcome of an election.
But what if the equation were reversed? What if voters studied candidates to learn their online habits, interests, and interactions? I speculate a great deal could be gleaned, revealing much about a candidate.
Let’s give it a try! Pick a candidate, any candidate. Secretary of State Mark Martin, you say? Excellent choice! After all, he recently won the Digital Government Achievement Award.[foot]This is a popular literary technique known as Situational Irony[/foot]
You may have heard that Mark Martin is the only politician in a statewide race to dodge the debates hosted by AETN this week. His office stated he had scheduling conflict, but numerous calls from the media regarding the nature of the alleged scheduling conflict have gone unanswered for many days now.
It’s understandable that our illustrious Secretary of State Mark Martin would not want to be challenged in person by Susan Inman, an expert on elections and the most qualified person to ever run for the office. However, one would think if he really wanted to defend his record, he would make the effort to show up. But surely there is a solid reason for missing the only debate, right? I mean, gosh, as Secretary of State, he must have very little free time since he is constitutionally mandated to keep a record of all legislative records while, like the Governor, residing and keeping his office in Little Rock, right?
Believe it or not, some folks have been downright accusatory saying he doesn’t even go to work much:
But to get back to the task at hand – perhaps by looking at his online habits, interests, and interactions, we can find some reason people say he doesn’t go to work much and is dodging the debate.
As it turns out, Secretary Martin HAS been extremely busy…on Facebook. He has unabashedly made countless posts, which let everyone see where and when he posted. In fact, the winner of the prestigious Digital Government Achievement Award really embraced GeoTagging technology this past summer. By doing so, he shed a lot of light on our illustrious Secretary of State’s interactions and interests, such as his concern for whales:
Ok, ok…so we all have our causes, and saving whales is a good one. And hey, even though he was clearly posting from home on a day and time most people would be at work, a guy is entitled to a day off now and then, right?
Some of you may recall a previous look at his digital behavior in 2013 turned up some habits that did not mesh well with his constitutional obligations as Secretary of State. That was just a little overview covering just a small sampling of posts. We are looking for answers here, and data is king, so go big or go home, right?
Going big is tedious, but revealing. There are many facets to aggregating hundreds of posts to arrive at a conclusion of just how often Mark Martin is in his office, and how often he posts during business hours. Let me explain — no, wait, let me sum up — imagine if you took a calendar and highlighted each day you that knew Mark Martin was not in the office in yellow, and then you marked the number of times he posted each day during business hours. It would look exactly like this:
Between March 31 and August 12, there were 95 regular business days, excluding weekends and holidays. Mark Martin was either at home in Prairie Grove or in other places not on state business for 42 of those days. For the average person who works 8-5 Monday through Friday, that’s the equivalent of enjoying 8 weeks and 2 days of paid leave…over a 4 1/2 month period.
Best. Job. Ever.
At least he works more than Congress! LOL! HAHAHAHAHA! ZING! WASHINGTON D.C., AMIRITE?!?
Oh. Wait. Nope.
Between March 31 and August 4 (when Congress went on recess), Congress only took off 22 days.
Over that same period, Mark MArtin posted at least 257 times to Facebook during normal business hours[foot]Questions regarding the availability of time to count those posts will not be entertained.[/foot]. When does this guy have time to work?
I think it is time to call Mark Martin what he truly is:
Now, some people will say I’m a vile liberal blogger, and I’m just making all of this up and distorting the facts. Fortunately, digital time stamps, including proof of a person’s physical location, combined with contextual narrative and photographic evidence contained on social media take all the speculation out of the issue. This once again leaves conservatives facing their most hated enemy: facts.
As a journalistic matter of sourcing my information in such a way that can be cross referenced, you can click here to download an excel spreadsheet containing the calendars shown above. For your convenience, all you have to do is mouse over the Facebook icon on a highlighted day to see the supporting geotagged post. There are a few that are not geotagged, and for those there are posts providing photographic and contextual information to support his not being in the office. Otherwise, you can hurry over to his Facebook page and see them for yourself. There should be plenty of time to see them all today. After all, he does have that scheduling conflict keeping him busy, and he surely will not have time to get on Facebook to delete or hide all the posts. Not that it matters since it has all been captured at this point.
Did I mention the state Constitution requires that the Secretary of State keep his office at the seat of government (i.e. Little Rock)? See Ark. Const. Amend 56, § 1; Ark. Const. Amend. 63, § 1.
State law then takes it a step further, requiring, in pertinent part:
(a) The Secretary of State shall reside and keep his or her office at the seat of government and shall have the custody of all records, rolls, and documents which properly belong to the state.
(b) He or she shall keep a register of all the official acts and proceedings of the Governor and, when required, shall lay the register and all papers, minutes, and vouchers relative to the register before the General Assembly.
(d) In addition to the other duties required by law of the Secretary of State, he or she shall receive from the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House of Representatives the records, books, papers, and rolls of the General Assembly and file them as records of his or her office.
Ark. Code Ann. § 25-16-403 (emphases added).
Layman’s translation: Just like the Governor, the Secretary is supposed to reside and keep his office in Little Rock.
How is someone supposed to lead a staff of over 200 people by never being in their presence? Yes, he has managers, but they never see him either. That doesn’t even count as leading from behind.
As an Arkansas Taxpayer, I hereby formally request a refund of the $54,000 in management consulting fees paid to Soderquist Group for advising the Secretary of State on how to run his office.
Based on everything his digital presence tells us, I think it is safe to say he is skipping the debates because they don’t line up on one of the select few days a month he is actually in the vicinity of central Arkansas.
Maybe his debate should be held on Facebook…