Of­fi­cial in Cave Springs set­tles ethics com­plaint against her

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DOUG THOMP­SON

CAVE SPRINGS — Cave Springs Recorder-Trea­surer Kim­berly Hutch­e­son will pay a $50 set­tle­ment to the state Ethics Com­mis­sion for ac­cept­ing a $500 le­gal ex­pense fund do­na­tion she never used, ac­cord­ing to com­mis­sion doc­u­ments.

Hutch­e­son set up a GoFundMe ac­count for ex­pected le­gal ex­penses, said Gra­ham Sloan, com­mis­sion di­rec­tor.

Later she re­funded the money in that fund to donors. Even so, a sin­gle do­na­tion of $500 from one con­trib­u­tor crossed the al­lowed limit on such con­tri­bu­tions an elected of­fi­cial in Arkansas can prop­erly ac­cept, he said.

It should have been re­turned quickly, but the re­fund by Hutch­e­son of it and the other dona­tions didn’t met the dead­line, he said.

Hutch­e­son re­ferred all ques­tions and com­ment to her at­tor­ney when reached at City Hall on Thurs­day. At­tor­ney Ge­orge Rozzell of Rogers didn’t re­turn calls to his of­fice Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Hutch­e­son is su­ing Mayor Travis Lee, the six-mem­ber City Coun­cil and two for­mer coun­cil mem­bers, say­ing the mayor and other elected of­fi­cials won’t let her do her job.

Lee and Hutch­e­son’s dis­pute peaked in Septem­ber when Lee sent Hutch­e­son home and blocked her from ac­cess­ing city com­puter data. Lee said he did so be­cause Hutch­e­son had mis­treated city work­ers.

The law­suit claims Lee and the coun­cil mem­bers vi­o­lated Hutch­e­son’s con­sti­tu­tional rights by pun­ish­ing her and re­strict­ing her abil­ity to do her job. The de­fen­dants have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

The let­ter to Hutch­e­son from the com­mis­sion no­ti­fy­ing her ac­cep­tance

of the set­tle­ment is dated July 21. It says the $50 is due no later than Aug. 4.

The com­mis­sion let­ter also said Hutch­e­son should have in­cluded the gifts to the GoFundMe ac­count should have been re­ported in her state­ment of fi­nan­cial in­ter­est to the state, and were not. The le­gal ex­pense ac­count re­ceived $1,500 in dona­tions at its height, the let­ter said.

The com­plaint to the com­mis­sion was filed by Jay T. Finch, the let­ter said.

Hutch­e­son

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