Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd on Friday said he is taking the rare action to remove a colleague from a House seat.
Shepherd, R-El Dorado, wrote a letter to House members explaining that he intends to put forth a resolution calling for the “immediate removal” of Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, from the chamber. Gates pleaded last month no contest to not paying state income taxes and worked out an agreement to pay part of what he owed.
Gates had been charged with not filing state tax returns from 2012 through 2017, but had worked out an agreement with Garland County prosecutors this week to reduce his charges to one count of not filing and paying income taxes. Gates will pay nearly $75,000 in back taxes, penalty and interest and serve six years of probation. A hearing later this year could add to more payments or charges.
“I am saddened that it has come to the filing of a resolution, but we must abide by the laws that we pass and uphold the trust of the people of Arkansas,” Shepherd wrote.
He cited the Arkansas Constitution and an act passed last session that says if a person has pleaded guilty or no contest or been found guilty of a public trust crime, he or she “shall not” file for, run for or hold a constitutional office.
Shepherd said he informed Gates of his intention and asked him to resign from the House, but Gates “indicated to me that he does not intend to do so.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also called for Gates’ resignation. A date for the House to caucus to consider Shepherd’s resolution has not been set.