The sorry record of Arkansas’ state treasurer
Just when did Innocent Reader notice the recurring bad news that this state’s treasurer, the (dis)Honorable Dennis Milligan, persists in describing as good news?
Was it when he had trouble paying all the bills he’d accumulated in the state’s name? What, him worry? It’s only the state’s money that he’s spending — that is, yours, Mr. and Ms. Arkansas Taxpayer — for as long as it holds out.
Various legislators don’t always go tamely along with Mr. Milligan’s well-known games. The president pro tem of the state Senate, the Hon. and honorable Jonathan Dismang, pride of Searcy, Ark., told Mr. Milligan at one point: “I feel like I’m missing something because you’ve incurred debt to a law firm that you didn’t have the money to pay, and now you’re coming before us and asking [us] to pay the bill.”
Bruce Maloch, the state senator from Magnolia, added his voice to the growing chorus of concern as he tried to explain the problem to hapless Mr. Milligan, who was playing oh-so-innocent: “Our issue is the fact that, when you know you’re getting close to running out of money, you come and get [an] appropriation before you spend the money. You put yourselves in a legal limbo of spending money without appropriation. You put the Legislature in a bind.”
Some of the lower-downs in the overstaffed treasurer’s office offered various excuses for this kind of shoddy performance on their part, but not any real reason. For example, Mr. Milligan’s chief deputy, Jason Brady, claimed he’d known about the problem since January, but the legislative session had made it impossible for him to meet with the riled legislators till the middle of May. All of which is about as credible a story as the dog’s having eaten his homework.
Kim Hammer, a state representative from Benton, wanted to know if the treasurer’s office was trying to hide something, which is unlikely. These people are so inept they couldn’t even hide the evidence of their own ineptitude. Still another chief deputy on Mr. Milligan’s bulging staff, Grant Wallace, explained that he was much too busy to pay attention to business. Or as he put it in a nicer way: “There was no attempt to hide these charges. You’re in the midst of a legal battle and you’re doing what you can to protect the interest of the state at that time.”
Besides, added Chief Deputy Treasurer No. 1 Brady, his boss had already prevailed in one jury trial in federal court, though another one was still going on in state court.
So if Innocent Reader is having trouble following all these (non)explanations from the state treasurer’s office, it appears the treasurer’s office with all its personnel may be at least as confused. Its chief legal counsel, T.J. Fowler, settled for saying that all this litigation was just too much for any one person to follow. If the past is any prologue, the treasurer’s office will soon be requesting even more staff to handle the problems its staff has caused.
The only sure winner in all this confusion has got to be the law firms that are raking it in because of our state treasurer’s antics, aka Milligan’s Shenanigans — which may sound like the name of an Irish band but would be a fitting description of what our state treasurer has been allowed to indulge in for too long. The list of law firms that have profited from his misadventures is long and prestigious and may be far from complete even now. But just to mention a few: There’s the well-known Mitchell-Williams firm. And there’s the Rose Law firm that was at the center of the Clinton scandals of indelible memory. And surely there are more bills to come as the ongoing scandal that is Dennis Milligan’s administration of his high office continues to unfold.
How much longer will this affair of Milligan versus Milligan drag on? Probably till the last deputy treasurer, assistant to the assistant file clerk and official spokesperson for the state treasurer’s office has grown old and gray, finally dying off only to be succeeded by separate but equal incompetents.
If the Legislature didn’t already have its hands full dealing with the extra-judicial antics of the Rev. and Judge Wendell Griffen, it might well spend its time and what little patience it has left getting ready to impeach the state’s treasurer. The real shame is that the Milligans and Griffens tend to take the spotlight off all those true public servants who have earned the state’s trust, not abused it.
All of which explains why Dennis Milligan, with the exception of Wendell Griffen, remains our favorite candidate for impeachment by the Legislature he’s played so many tricks on.