Ethics complaint filed against county election commissioner dismissed by state

The Arkansas Ethics Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to dismiss a complaint filed in November against Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stuart Soffer by Pine Bluff resident Stanley Walker.

Walker, who is the son of Ward 1 Alderman Thelma Walker, brought the complaint against Soffer in Soffer’s capacity as election commissioner and alleged that Soffer filed false information about former city collector Albert Ridgel, Thelma Walker, Ward 4 Alderman George Stepps and Ward 3 Alderman Glen Brown.

The AEC said that Soffer’s complaints in fact had validity and that those filed against Walker and Brown resulted in violations being found. The Stepps complaint is still pending.

“Those complaints reflected that you filed them in your capacity as a ‘citizen’ as opposed to your capacity as a member of the State Board of Election Commissioners,” the letter to Soffer from AEC Director Graham F. Sloan said in part. “With respect to the above-referenced allegation, it is noted that the theory of the complaint was that you had discriminated on the basis of political affiliation and race. The Ethics Commission’s decision was based upon a finding that such matters, even if true, would not constitute a violation of laws under the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction.”

Soffer said he appreciated the AEC’s quick decision.

“Mr. Walker’s complaint was clearly lacking any basis in fact or law, and I sincerely appreciate the Arkansas Ethics Commission’s prompt dismissal,” Soffer said in a prepared statement. “In response, I will ask them to charge Mr. Walker with filing a frivolous complaint under the provisions of Ark. Code Annotated 7-6-218. That is necessary because it is time for those few individuals working against the future of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County to wake up to the fact that it is no longer business as usual with immunity.”