The rumor for the past few years among certain groups[footnote]Those groups being “anyone who spent any time around the Capitol” and “people with even a passing interest in political gossip” and “basically everyone who knew who Laurie Rushing or Ken Henderson was.”[/footnote] has been that Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs) and Ken Henderson (R-Russellville) were having an affair. There were certainly clues that supported such gossip, such as both of them traveling on the same trip to the Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2015 and then again together in 2016, as shown on their respective Statements of Financial Interest[footnote]There were also whispers about Rushing and Henderson’s being told, in no uncertain terms, by the Speaker of the House to stop being so blatantly obvious about their affair while they were both still married.[/footnote]:
This, alone, hardly amounted to proof of an affair. Or, more accurately, it hardly rose to a level of proof that would support a full-blown story about the rumors.
But when it pops up in public records filed by and against one of the legislators in question? Now that’s story-worthy.
In October 2016, Henderson’s wife filed for separate maintenance in Pope County Circuit Court.[footnote]Basically, she filed say that the couple had separated and she needed use of the house and car during the separation.[/footnote] On December 30, 2016, Henderson’s wife amended her complaint from separate maintenance to a complaint for divorce, in which she alleged the grounds of general indignities and adultery. (In case you were paying attention to the dates and were wondering, yes, the divorce action was filed in the same month as the second trip to a Foundation for Excellence in Education conference.)
Laurie Rushing, filing under the name L. J. Rushing, filed for divorce in May 2017 in Garland County. Her divorce was final on November 2, 2017, and–at least based on the public record–appears to have unfolded smoothly and without incident in the courts.
Henderson’s divorce, on the other hand, has not gone so smoothly. In June 2017, both parties informed the court that they would like to place the case on hold due to family-related obligations and relatives’ health issues. And, so, they were in a holding pattern until something happened late last year that caused Mrs. Henderson’s lawyer to file some requests for admission that you really just have to see to fully appreciate:
I mean, there’s putting someone’s dirty laundry out in the open, and then there’s just completely blowing up their spot entirely, damn the torpedoes. This falls into the latter category.
But, wait! There’s more!
Rather than move to strike those requests[footnote]Or, I dunno, rather than having already stipulated to the adultery grounds months earlier so something like this wouldn’t be relevant[/footnote] or file a motion to seal the record, Henderson fired back with some requests of his own. Of particular note are:
Now, I don’t know about you, but that reads to me like someone who got served with some requests for admission about an affair with Laurie Rushing then turning around and basically tying himself to Rushing in his own set of RFAs. More to the point, I think the dueling requests can be distilled down to, “Admit you had an affair with Laurie Rushing” and “Admit that you don’t like Laurie Rushing.” I think it’s fair to say that Mrs. Henderson is likely not a fan of Laurie Rushing in this scenario.
But Henderson wasn’t done. On the same day that he filed his requests for admission, he also filed a motion for contempt against Mrs. Henderson, in which he alleged, among other things:
January, 2017, the Plaintiff threatened to kick the Defendant out of the residence referred to in the Temporary Order as the barn because of where [Henderson] was sitting in the House of Representatives.
And where was Ken Henderson sitting in the House of Representatives in January 2017, you ask?
Well, if this earlier pic is to be believed, maybe the answer is “a bit too close to Laurie Rushing.” (She is in green to the left; he’s rocking the goatee and red tie just up and to the right of her.)
Now, obviously, Rushing and Henderson are adults, so they can do whatever they want together and face whatever marital or religious consequences may come. So why mention this at all?
The same reason I mention much of anything on here, it seems: hypocrisy.
You see, while both Rushing and Henderson’s campaign websites appear (coincidentally, I’m sure) to be down, the Internet Wayback Machine reminds us that Laurie Rushing ran on a “Family Values” platform, constantly using the word “family” and displaying pictures of herself, her husband, and their kids all over the website.
Not that Rushing is alone in this, of course. It takes two to…um…tango? But Ken Henderson just doesn’t post much of substance on Facebook or Twitter, so there are no screenshots from his accounts that really drive the point home like these do.
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, both Rushing and Henderson are pro-life and vow to protect “our religious freedoms,” whatever that is supposed to mean.
So I think it’s safe to assume that both are Christians. (If either one is not and would like me to correct this statement, please let me know.) If you oppose abortion because you think the Bible prohibits it, or if you think businesses should be able to discriminate against gays and lesbians for religious reasons, that’s on you.
But, if I may offer some unsolicited advice: when part of your platform is about pushing laws that restrict a woman’s right to an abortion based on your belief or about defending the “freedom” to discriminate based on religious conviction, you might want to make doubly sure you aren’t breaking one of the Ten Commandments on the regular. Just a thought.
Remember earlier in the post when I mentioned that Rushing filed for divorce under the name L.J. Rushing? That’s a fairly common tactic, and, on its own, not all that noteworthy.
It becomes noteworthy, though, when you realize that Rushing was the sole sponsor of HB 2049 in the last regular session. What was HB 2049? It was “An Act to Require Persons to File Court Documents Under His or Her Full Name.”
The bill went nowhere, but it is pretty damned rich to file that bill on March 6, 2017; have it die at sine die adjournment on May 1, 2017; and then file for divorce under “L.J. Rushing” on May 3. So much for being the change you wish to see in the world, I suppose.