Monday, June 21, 2021

Miles to Reimburse Before She Sleeps: A Reply to Jessica Ballinger

What she should have said was nothing.

When the previous post about Sen. Bob Ballinger’s misuse of campaign funds and questionable mileage reimbursements went live at 8:45 on Friday morning, I thought we might get some kind of response from Ballinger. I was nearly certain, however, that Jessica Ballinger would respond, because she is absolutely incapable of simply staying quiet, even when that would be the best approach.1

That being the case, I was somewhat surprised when Friday came and went without hearing anything from either Ballinger. Around 1:30 Saturday morning,2 though, Jessica came through for us in a Twitter response to an anonymous troll account.

Friends, believe me when I tell you that I love this mind-meltingly stupid tweet so much that I want to have eight kids with it and take it on a fun getaway to Phoenix on someone else’s dime.3 I felt it was only fair, given how much joy her response sparked In me, to return the favor with an open-letter reply.

***

Dear Jessica,

I will save us both the awkward fiction and spare the pleasantries and mindless chit-chat here. Suffice it to say that I hope this letter finds you well.

The purpose of this open-letter–in case you did not read the first three paragraphs of this post, I suppose4–is to offer a reply to your insightful response to something called “MuckFax” regarding the post about you and your husband. While I read your tweet with great interest, I fear that you might think that you have somehow rebutted something that was in the original post.

Please allow me to disabuse you of any such thoughts.

First off, saying that a report was “pieced together” is not actually a defense or rebuttal where, as here, it was “pieced together” from (1) campaign-finance reports that Bob wrote your name on and (2) words and pictures that you and Bob personally posted on Twitter and Facebook. You don’t have to take my word for it, though; ask any number of Bob’s friends associated with Ecclesia College if they wish that “you pieced that together from the words and deeds of me and my co-conspirators!” was some kind of defense.

In that same vein, “stupid butchered” does not offer any kind of substantive counterargument5 unless you point to something in the post that is actually “butchered,” whatever you think that might mean. (I assume you are saying “butchered” as in “he chopped up the campaign-finance reports by taking screenshots of sections.” To which I would simply suggest that you re-read the previous paragraph about why such a comment is not a defense.)

Secondly, you “unblocked” me to “read this…report”? Oh, Jessica, bless your heart. Nearly forty-five is far too young to be this clueless about technology.

By which I mean, Blue Hog Report is a blog and exists on the internet6 wholly irrespective of whether you have @bluehogreport blocked on Twitter. Also, considering that the post was shared by the Arkansas Blog and was linked by other people on Twitter (and could be located by typing “Bob Ballinger” into the search bar), I just don’t understand why you needed to unblock me to read the post.7

All of which brings me to the main reason for this reply. Since you did not specify any part of the post that you disagree with or point to something that I was wrong about, you appear to be disputing anything in the post that suggests that you or Bob did anything wrong. Am I reading that right?

Hmm. Claiming that you did nothing wrong and attacking the rakishly handsome messenger for suggesting otherwise. Where have I seen that before?

Let’s see…there was Mark Darr. (That wound up not working out so well for him.) Dr. Dexter Suggs tried that approach when his plagiarism was brought to light. (Though I suppose we should call him Mr. Suggs now.) Oh, and I recall Mike Maggio saying that a certain post was false and was just politically motivated. (It was neither of those things, as the Arkansas Supreme Court soon explained to Maggio.)

If that is really the approach that you are taking, then I assume that either you or Bob has answers to the following questions:

  1. What was the purpose of the $1,000.00 that Bob paid you on December 12, 2018?
  2. How did you drive 1,904.8 miles on behalf of the campaign between Sunday, May 13 (Mother’s Day) and Tuesday, May 15?
  3. What was the reason for the cabin-rental payment on May 21, 2018?
  4. Why did you drive 1,085.7 miles for the campaign in the twelve days immediately following the 2018 primary?
  5. Why do forty-seven of the expenditure entries on Bob’s CC&E reports for May 2018 through December 2018 lack a description for the expenditure (including three of the entries for money paid to you)?
  6. Did you maintain a log of exact beginning and ending odometer readings for every trip you drove on behalf of the campaign?
  7. Why did Bob list an outstanding loan from you on the Final 2018 CC&E Report when that “loan” had clearly been repaid to you in August 2018?

I could go on, but you get the point. These are all questions that words and numbers written by you and Bob raised. Actual answers to these and other, similar questions would likely put Arkansans’ minds at ease about the whole situation, which I am sure is something you want to do. So I and others who care about transparency and accountability in campaign finance will await your illuminating answers.

While I have you here, I should mention that one other thing about your Hemingway-If-He-Habitually-Huffed-Gas-esque tweet jumped out at me. You wrote, “Wonder if blue hog knows Sonic is hiring[?]” To answer your question, I do, in fact, know that several fast-food restaurants have open positions.

But your question makes me wonder if you realize how ugly and elitist it sounds for you to use food-service work as a punchline. Bob’s CC&Es from 2018 are littered with stops at one burger stand or another throughout his district. Food-service work is difficult and rarely compensated even close to appropriately.8You are personally a member of a demographic (stay-at-home moms) whose efforts have perpetually been undervalued by society.

Yet, here you are, derisively joking that someone might work at Sonic? That’s not a good look. After all, not everyone has a campaigning spouse who will give them $1,000 for absolutely no reason.

Besides, I already have a job as a lawyer.9 I appreciate your concern, but I’ll be ok. Promise.

Sincerely wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day,

Matt


  1. I even halfway expected that her response would be an unfunny gif, given that she seems to think re-using the “woman spitting coffee” gif passes for wit and cleverness. But I digress.

  2. Maybe they were up late trying to recreate the mileage logs that Bob was required to keep if he was paying reimbursements?

  3. Seriously, if there was a Louvre for stupid responses, this tweet would be the Dumb Mona Lisa.

  4. Honestly, you strike me as the kind of person who might just skim a post, looking for your name.

  5. It does stupidly butcher commonly accepted rules about punctuation, though.

  6. You’re looking at it right now, in fact!

  7. Unless…Jessica, be honest: were you just trying to humblebrag that you had me blocked? You sneaky little minx!

  8. Hint: That’s why there are job openings at many places right now.

  9. You’ve never seen a practicing lawyer, so that may be why you were confused.

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  1. I even halfway expected that her response would be an unfunny gif, given that she seems to think re-using the “woman spitting coffee” gif passes for wit and cleverness. But I digress.

  2. Maybe they were up late trying to recreate the mileage logs that Bob was required to keep if he was paying reimbursements?

  3. Seriously, if there was a Louvre for stupid responses, this tweet would be the Dumb Mona Lisa.

  4. Honestly, you strike me as the kind of person who might just skim a post, looking for your name.

  5. It does stupidly butcher commonly accepted rules about punctuation, though.

  6. You’re looking at it right now, in fact!

  7. Unless…Jessica, be honest: were you just trying to humblebrag that you had me blocked? You sneaky little minx!

  8. Hint: That’s why there are job openings at many places right now.

  9. You’ve never seen a practicing lawyer, so that may be why you were confused.