A few weeks back, Deputy Secretary of State Alice Stewart made headlines when she heaped praise on Republican party activists and politicians while attacking Democratic policy proposals despite her officially nonpartisan position. (Which, I might add, we the taxpayers pay her for.) Now she’s in hot water for appearing on Sean Hannity last night as a “Republican Strategist.” When asked about this by Max Brantley, Stewart responded with a smart ass retort:
Yes, I was off the clock. Thanks for asking.
This of course despite Martin making a big issue of Pat O’Brien being an Obama supporter and passing out this press release last year:
MARK MARTIN CAMPAIGN NEWS RELEASE
LIMIT SOS POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
Friday, 06 August 2010 00:00
Mark Martin Wants Limits On Political Activities in the Secretary of State Office
Little Rock, Ark. (August 6, 2010) – State Representative Mark Martin announced proposed new recommendations for limiting political activity on the part of employees of the Secretary of State’s office and himself. This occurred during a presentation to the Association of Arkansas Election Commissioners on August 6, 2010.
“During the 2008 Presidential election, Mr. O’Brien actively worked on the campaign of Barack Obama while he was serving as the chief elected election official in Pulaski County. Not only did he endorse Barack Obama, but he served as the state spokesman for the Obama campaign,” Martin stated. “To be clear, I am not saying that he did anything illegal, but I am saying that he created an appearance of impropriety in the election process. As an election official, it is your duty to make sure that the elections are beyond reproach. I think Mr. O’Brien’s work on behalf of the Obama campaign created an appearance of a conflict of interest that was likely troublesome to many voters,” Martin added.
Martin continued, “In an effort to ensure that the people of Arkansas know that I will try to run a fair and non-partisan office, I will require that employees in the Secretary of State’s office, including myself if elected, follow the following guidelines:
PROHIBITED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES:
Publicly endorse or oppose, or actively work for or against a candidate for an elected public office, a statewide ballot initiative, amendment, or referendum.
Contribute to a candidate for an elected public office, or an organization that is working for or against a statewide ballot initiative or a referendum.
Be a candidate for, or hold an elected public office.
PERMITTED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES:
Register to vote under a partisan affiliation.
May contribute to a political party or partisan organization.
Hold an official position in a partisan organization or political party.
Participate in the partisan nominating process by voting in primaries and attending county/state/national committee meetings, assemblies or conventions.”
Martin finished by saying, “It seems logical that if we have restrictions on what Election Commissioners can do at the county level, we should have similar restrictions on the state level for those who are entrusted with ensuring the election process works fairly for all Arkansans.” Videos of Mr. O’brien’s use of his official title in the endorsement and campaigning for Barack Obama can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/Arkansas4Obama.
So Martin now has to fire Alice Stewart or break his campaign promise. It’s one of the two.
As long as this woman is serving in the Secretary of State’s office, the office that certifies elections in Arkansas, we cannot trust that the job will be carried out in the nonpartisan fashion so essential for working democracy. She has to go.