Martin, challenger file as candidates for secretary of state


LITTLE ROCK — Secretary of State Mark Martin, a Republican, filed for re-election Tuesday just after Democrat Susan Inman filed for the constitutional office.

Also filing Tuesday was Republican Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan for state treasurer.

The week-long political filing period began Monday and runs through next Monday.

There are 265 federal, state, district and nonpartisan judicial positions up for election this year, including each of the state’s 100 House seats and 18 of the 35 Senate seats. The primary election is May 20 and the general election is Nov. 4.

On Monday, 136 people had filed at the state Capitol, and 90 had previously filed petitions for nonpartisan judicial races, said Alex Reed, spokesman for the secretary of state.

Inman, a long-time election official, said she wants to brings integrity and non-partisanship back to the office.

“I want to restore transparency and integrity to the office of secretary of state,” she said. “I think it’s high time that we look at people’s qualifications and credentials, rather than just a D or an R next to their name, so that we can elect people qualified to fill those jobs they are entrusted with by the voters in Arkansas.”

Inman also criticized Martin for not informing absentee voters on the new voter ID process.

“The absentee voters did not know what to do,” she said, adding if she had been in office they would have understood the new law and known what they had to do to vote.

The new voter ID law took effect Jan. 1 and was used for the first time in a special election in Craighead County in January for a state Senate seat. After a majority of absentee voters failed to submit a copy of their ID with their ballot, as required under the law, county election officials were unsure whether the law allowed those voters to correct the error.

The law allows voters who do not bring ID to the polls to cast a provisional ballot and gives them until noon the following Monday to present ID to have their ballot counted, but it was unclear whether the cure period applied to absentee voters. The election officials ultimately decided, acting on advice from Martin, to give the voters until noon of the following Tuesday — because the next Monday was a holiday — to submit ID.

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said later in an advisory opinion that he could find nothing in Arkansas’ new voter ID law that allows for a cure period for absentee voters who fail to submit ID with their ballot.

“According to my review, there is no comparable procedure for absentee voters who fail to submit the requisite identification with their ballots,” McDaniel said.

Martin did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Milligan, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, said his business experience and his “county-level executive” experience qualify him for state treasurer.

“The treasurer’s office, as it has been shown, has had some difficulties,” he said, adding that he has twice previously “been called upon by my party to go into jobs that are difficult, including the state chairmanship, and also as the sitting circuit clerk of Saline County … I went into that office when there were some issues and some trouble.”

Martha Shoffner resigned May 21 after being indicted on public corruption counts. She was later charged with 14 counts of extortion and bribery. She had been under investigation for more than a year because of suspected bond transactions in her office when federal authorities took her into custody at her Newport home May 18 after an informant delivered a $6,000 cash payment in a pie box.

A trial on those charges is scheduled for March 3.

Earlier this month, Shoffner was charged with 10 counts of mail fraud for allegedly using $9,800 of campaign funds from her re-election campaign for state treasurer for personal use. Shoffner allegedly mailed campaign checks for payments to a personal Wells Fargo credit card from Nov. 5, 2010, through Oct. 9, 2011.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday on the new charges.

Rep. Duncan Baird, R-Lowell, co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, has said he also plans to seek the state treasurer’s seat.