State Senator Paul Bookout (D-Jonesboro) has been fined $8,000 by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for four violations of state law. The Commission met this morning in Little Rock after several weeks of investigation into Bookout’s campaign spending.
According to Bob Hester, the Jonesboro resident who filed the complaint and who attended the hearing today, Bookout will be fined $2,000 per violation of state law for a total of $8,000.
The Commission’s probe into Bookout’s campaign spending revealed the following spending that they found to violate Arkansas campaign law:
- $8,000+ paid to Sound Concepts for a home entertainment system;
- 9 payments to Steamroller Blues, a local clothing store, for a total of $5,043; and
- $1,500 paid to Ridge Point Country Club
According to Hester, these were the only expenses that were announced at the meeting.
Talk Business is reporting that Bookout also transferred $18,000 of campaign funds to a personal bank account. The three expenditures plus the transferred funds account for more than half of all the unitemized spending Bookout reported in 2012, but there are still several thousand dollars of expenses unaccounted for.
In addition to the $8,000 fine, Hester told me that Bookout said that he plans to repay the nearly $50,000 in unitemized funds that he spent. Hester noted, however, that this repayment might never happen, because Bookout is not required to do so by law.
In August of 2012 alone, Bookout spent $2,680 on entertainment. In order to lawfully spend this amount, without disclosing itemized receipts, Bookout would have (at least) 27 different expenses on entertainment in order for each expense to be less than $100.00 — all within a 30-day period. In order to spend the $27,000 on entertainment that Bookout shows on his forms since February 1, 2012, he would need to have incurred 271 separate entertainment expenses in order for each to be less than $100 — and that’s assuming that each expense was $99.99.
When the investigation was first announced in the Jonesboro Sun, Bookout said that he has always “put everything in there according to the guidelines that I was always under. I abided by them like I always have.” “I’ll do whatever I need to do to comply,” he said. Considering Bookout has now been fined for committing four violations and did not turn over any receipts to the Ethics Commission, it’s hard to take those claims seriously.
How long until the governor compares him to Martha Shoffner? (My advice: don’t wait up.)