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Committee recommends sanctions for Arkansas senator over ‘frivolous’ complaint

Michael Hibblen
Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, reads a motion Friday to the Senate Ethics Committee recommending that no penalties be imposed against Sen. Stephanie Flowers. Sen. Alan Clark watches proceedings from the back of the room.

Arkansas state Sen. Alan Clark, who was sanctioned earlier this summer for an ethics violation, is now being recommended for much more severe sanctions after making a complaint that was deemed to be “frivolous” and “retaliatory.”

During its fourth meeting on the matter, the Senate Ethics Committee also cleared Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, of any wrongdoing. A motion said a petition had been filed against Flowers by Clark, R-Lonsdale, on Aug. 18.

Flowers had received payments by the state for travel expenses for legislative meetings she joined via Zoom. Last month, Flowers repaid the state nearly $3,000.

“The committee, after having completed its investigation of the allegations against Sen. Flowers, finds that Sen. Flowers has not violated any provisions of Senate Rule 24,” said Sen. Missy Irvin in making a motion. “As such, I move that the committee recommend that the Senate uphold this finding of the committee and that no penalties be imposed against Sen. Flowers as the committee found the issue at hand to be clerical only.”

The committee then went into executive session, meeting behind closed doors, before announcing it was recommending sanctions against Clark, including that he be suspended from the Senate for the rest of the year and lose his seniority next year. The recommendations will now go before the full Senate.

Regarding the commission’s findings, Clark said in a statement, “I think they are mistaken.”

He also claimed Senate records show Flowers was paid $6,347 in mileage and per diem in 2021 when she only attended four days in-person, with less than half of that being repaid.

“You can question my motives, you can’t question the $6,300,” Clark told reporters. “That’s a big amount.”

Austin Bailey
Arkansas Times
Sen. Alan Clark speaks to reporters after Friday's meeting of the Senate Ethics Committee.

In July, the Senate punished Clark and Sen. Mark Johnson, R-Ferndale, for violating reimbursement rules. Clark had texted Johnson asking him to put Clark’s name on a sign in sheet at a Boy’s State meeting in June that Clark did not attend. The action would enable Clark to receive a reimbursement for mileage. Clark claimed he ended up not attending the meeting because he became sick with a fever. Both apologized for their actions on the Senate floor.

A motion approved on Friday said Clark “has made repeated public statements regarding his intent to retaliate against the Senate." It also said Clark’s petition against Flowers “was reckless, with deliberate intent.”

Michael Hibblen is News Director of UA Little Rock Public Radio. A 34-year radio veteran, he oversees the KUAR News staff, plans coverage and edits stories while also reporting and anchoring newscasts.
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