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I've said it before: It is not much fun being governor.

Oh, there are great times, at ribbon cuttings and big announcements which benefit the state and local citizens where wages will be increased and jobs built for decades.

But there are also times when the headlines of others give you as governor a pounding, relentless headache that just won't seem to go away.

These ethical breaches in the state's recent history are among those nagging headaches that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has these hot, humid summer days.

With the campaign season underway, the governor seems occupied with fending off questions, accusations and "what ifs," that are just adding to the headache that is mounting towards the November election.

Now, traditional Republicans and those on the Hutchinson re-election bandwagon will tell you: "The Governor is safe on these issues. He has done nothing wrong. These sins of others were rooted out on his watch and he is glad that the state of Arkansas (and federal courts) are cleaning all this up."

A pretty profound statement.

But what is not being said?

Plenty is not being said to placate the Arkansas voters into feeling better about the men and women who serve them in politics and are not misusing their elected offices for personal gain.

Recently, Hutchinson spoke to the Arkansas Bar Association, and he proposed a couple of small improvements in ethics law.

Hutchinson wants to make state laws with stronger penalties for ethics violations, which now are rather minimal.

He also said he'd back an end to "cloning PACs."

This "cloning PACs" is what several GOP operatives have been doing as a cottage industry of late. And to be frank, Hutchinson felt this procedure was used in the recent May Preferential Primary through actions by the right-wing Conduit For Action organizations and others.

By setting up multiple PACs, sometimes with similar contributors and similar beneficiaries, these far-right wing groups tried to oust Hutchinson with its unfailing support of gun-range owner Jan Morgan.

There is no doubt that the governor is tainted in his talks with the activity of his nephew, state Senator Jeremy Hutchinson of Benton, who has had his own splash in the press over some questionable activities related to the lobbying/working/legislating on the state Senate clock while in office. There have been no charges filed, yet Senator Hutchinson has left his former law firm (when these alleged payments of $9,000 a month for legal work/consultation were uncovered in court documents.)

Senator Hutchinson, while pointed to in court documents, has not been indicted, arrested or asked to testify at this point in any investigation.

In one interview, Governor Hutchinson said having enough rules and laws on the books in Arkansas was not the problem -- "people are the problem."

That's largely true.

Arkansas, starting with the oath of office, has rules, regulations and, yes, laws for elected officials.

Getting the people, elected by the voters, to follow those rules, regulations and laws is indeed a Herculean task -- or at least it seems so these days.

Electing better people to public office is a start.

Many times of late, Gentle Readers, candidates for public office cannot even follow the rules laid out by the political parties (themselves) or the state laws to run as a candidate.

Candidates will not raise money properly -- documenting all these campaign contributions they take into their campaign. Many candidates do not file their reports on time and properly.

Some candidates, very plainly, just don't follow the rules, laws and regulations from day one.

Sometimes these candidates who can't seem to get it right running for office, strangely, get elected.

And then they never seem to follow the rules once in office.

If people are the problem, then voters really need to question those who are running for office this fall.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 07/11/2018

Print Headline: Governor can't escape 'ethics' debate in 2018

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