Alderman could face fines, criminal charges

Pine Bluff Alderman Glen Brown could face fines of $50 to $2,000 if the Arkansas Ethics Commission determines he violated state laws during the 2012 calendar year and political campaign period, commission Director Graham F. Sloan said Friday.

Brown also could be charged with misdemeanor offenses by local Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter.

Brown is being investigated by the commission, which oversees conduct of elected officials within the state.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Aug. 21, Sloan wrote that a complaint against Brown “meets the requirements” for an investigation to be commenced. Click here to view the full letter as a PDF.

Listed as essential allegations by the complainant, whose identity was concealed in a copy of the letter received by The Commercial late Thursday, were:

• The “sheer volume of new campaign signs blanketing” the third ward, which Brown represents, was “indicative of (an) expenditure in excess of $500.” Brown, however, failed to file a pre-election campaign contribution and expenditures report “as an opposed candidate for re-election” in the 2012 general election.

• The complainant “confirmed” through a deputy county clerk that “there was no final campaign report” for Brown on file in the Jefferson County clerk’s office in connection with the 2012 general election.

• According to Pine Bluff Finance Director Steve Miller, Brown “received $12,450 in compensation in calendar year 2012” as an alderman. However, Brown failed to report in his statement of financial interest (SFI) for the 2012 calendar year “income over $1,000 from the City of Pine Bluff (which he) earned” while serving in his elected capacity.

• “As a former Jefferson County justice of the peace,” Brown “is entitled to conduct civil marriages” by state code and is listed on the “county clerk’s justice of the peace marriage call sheet.” Brown officiates marriages for a fee, but did not report in his 2012 SFI “income over $1,000 (he received for) performing marriages.”

• Brown “listed a creditor but failed to provide the creditor’s addresses as required” in his 2012 SFI.

• While Brown performs marriages in his capacity as a former JP, “he has no other standing or entitlements” at the courthouse. However, Brown “performs marriage ceremonies in the quorum court room, a room furnished at public expense, for either personal of political campaign gain. Members of the public cannot use this room for personal or political campaign financial gain.”

In the letter, Sloan also outlined the commission’s focuses in its forthcoming investigation on each of the points. He instructed the complainant to deliver “any and all evidence” to the agency, which is located in Little Rock.

Sloan said by telephone Friday that he could speak only in generalities to The Commercial and could not discuss particulars of the commission’s possible case against Brown.

Efforts to obtain comment from Brown on Friday were unsuccessful.

A Commercial reporter addressed Brown several times before a special called city council meeting at the civic center, but Brown did not respond.

Brown did not return a telephone call Friday night.

Sloan said that there are three levels of correspondence action the commission can serve against violators, ranging from a caution to a warning to a reprimand, the highest level. The agency, which is based in Little Rock, has between 150 and 180 days to make a determination.

Fines could be assessed on any or all determined violations.