Editorials

But will he go?

Dennis Milligan, walking scandal

There's one Republican county committee in this state that's been vigilant when it comes to matters ethical, legal and civic in general. Those who follow state and local politics in Arkansas will know we're talking about Jefferson County's, and it's just taken the lead again by calling for the state treasurer to resign--just as his notorious predecessor Martha Shoffner did.

Resigning tends to be something of a tradition in that office, and needs to be, considering the miscreants who have held it. And who held onto it all too long. Now our state treasurer--for not too much longer, let's hope--is Dennis Milligan, who got into trouble almost as soon as he took the oath of office, as many of us were sure he would, having watched his low-down campaign for the job.

To quote the all-too-accurate message from Peter Smykla Jr. of Pine Bluff, chairman of his county's Republican committee, to Mr. Milligan: "Your campaign promised to bring back trust, dignity and integrity to a state office that had been abused by the former treasurer." Instead the current occupant of the treasurer's office broke the state laws against nepotism his first week on the job: He hired a first cousin for a job in his office that pays $63,000 a year. And wound up paying a $1,000 penalty. And having to reimburse the state.

It took until the next month for Mr. Milligan and his deputy chief of staff, Jason Brady, to say they would make a charitable contribution to Mr. Brady's old employer, a non-profit, to make up for using its time and resources when he was Mr. Milligan's campaign manager.

And now Mr. Milligan's chief of staff, Jim Harris, who's made bad news himself from time to time, is embroiled in a defamation suit with a now former member of the state treasurer's staff. The whole mess keeps growing messier, and surely will grow messier still as one scandal succeeds another.

A self-respecting state official would resign now, but we're talking about Dennis Milligan.

Stay tuned. More bad news is sure to come, given Mr. Milligan's record in office and how the past tends to be but prologue for the future.

Or as that astute political scientist Bette Davis put it, fasten your seat belts--it's going to be a bumpy night.

Editorial on 06/04/2015

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