Hollingsworth lawyer dismisses relevance of earlier ethics finding

Attorney Charles Sidney Gibson, who is representing Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth in her lawsuit against former mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. and the Jefferson County Election Commission, among others, dismissed as irrelevant Thursday a February finding by the state ethics body that he had unintentionally failed to file a Statement of Financial Interest over a several-year period in his capacity as Dermott city attorney.

The finding by the Arkansas Ethics Commission came after an ethics complaint was filed against Gibson in December 2013 by Pine Bluff community activist and former alderman Jack Foster.

“Jack Foster is using an ad hominem argument against me in this case,” Gibson said Thursday when asked to comment on the ethics finding.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines an ad hominem argument as one which is “marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.”

“I’m not an elected city attorney and consequently the city clerk never sent me a finance form to fill out,” Gibson said. “I filled one out anyway.

“In this situation it’s easier just to move on,” Gibson said.

The position of Dermott city attorney is appointed by the mayor because Dermott is a city of the first class with a population of less than 50,000 residents.

Hollingsworth wondered aloud what the relevance was between the nature of the Ethics Commission finding against Gibson and his representation of her interests in the current lawsuit.

“Let’s put all of this in perspective,” Hollingsworth said. “Mr. Gibson was fined $50 for an oversight on his part that he took care of to the satisfaction of the Ethics Commission as soon as it was brought to his attention. There is really nothing more to say.”

“I just question how good an attorney he is when it comes to municipal law when he couldn’t even file his own statement of financial interest for four consecutive years,” Foster said. “It doesn’t add up to me. But if that’s the kind of attorney the mayor wants representing her, more power to her.”