As reported by the Arkansas Blog and other outlets, Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith) pleaded guilty today to federal charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. I’d been waiting to see what all Files actually admitted to when the inevitable guilty plea was entered, and this in particular caught my eye:
Court documents say Files misspent state GIF money designated for a sports complex at Fort Smith that his construction company was supposed to build but never completed. He admitted falsifying bids for a water line on that project that was awarded to an employee. She said she gave Files the money and used it to pay workers of his construction company as well as keeping some for himself.
Man, how crazy would it be if last year during the legislative session, even as this whole house of cards was unraveling around him, Files would have sponsored a bill specifically designed to punish the submission of false bids to the state or local government? That would just be nuts, right?
Oh. Wait. Of course, that’s exactly what he did.
Files, um, filed SB548, “An Act Creating the Arkansas False Claims Act; Concerning the Submission of False Claims to the State or a Local Government,” on March 2, 2017. It reads, in ironically pertinent part:
(a) A person is liable to the state or a local government if he or she:
(1) Knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
(2) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
(4) Has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the state or local government, and knowingly fails to remit or deliver, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property.
The bill died at sine die adjournment and — thankfully for Files, I guess — did not become law. Still, that’s the kind of on-the-nose absurdity that, if you saw it in a movie, would make you cringe and think, “C’mon, NOBODY is THAT ridiculous.” For Files to propose such a bill in 2017 would be like Laurie Rushing and Ken Henderson co-sponsoring a bill to make adultery illegal or Jason Rapert pushing to make first-amendment violations a criminal offense.
With that much ego (or, perhaps, hubris) at play in Files’ day-to-day dealings, I think two things are likely: First, there are some people out there with ties to Files who are feeling nervous these days. Second, it is going to be very hard for the Federal Bureau of Prisons to find pants that can fit over Files’ enormous balls.