Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday called on a state representative from his own party to resign or be removed from office after the lawmaker pleaded no contest earlier in the week to failing to pay state income taxes.
Despite mounting calls for his resignation, including from the governor and House Speaker, state Rep. Mickey Gates, R- Hot Springs, said he has no plans to step down.
"It is unacceptable for a public official, particularly a state legislator, to continue to hold office after being found guilty of a criminal violation of our tax laws," the governor said in an emailed statement. "He should resign or be removed from office."
During a brief phone conversation in which he was asked about the governor's comments, Gates lashed out at Hutchinson. He said the governor "needs to go read the record," which Gates noted did not include a finding of guilt.
On Monday, Gates pleaded no contest in Garland County Circuit Court for failing to pay his taxes in 2012. Gates was sentenced to probation under a first-time offender law that allows a defendant to be discharged without a final adjudication of guilt if they complete all the terms of the sentence.
The terms of Gates' sentence include paying $74,789 in back taxes, interest and penalties for years of missed taxes, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.
Gates was re-elected last November, after the news of his arrest on tax charges became public. Gates said Friday that he will continue to serve until his constituents no longer want him to.
David Showers contributed to this report.
This story was originally published at 1:30 p.m. Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.