Calls for Shoffner’s resignation mount

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe led a chorus of officials from both sides of the political aisle Monday in calling for embattled state Treasurer Martha Shoffner to resign in the face of federal extortion charges.

In a criminal complaint Monday, federal prosecutors accused the two-term treasurer of taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks for allegedly steering the bulk of the bond business in her office to a single broker. Shoffner was arrested Saturday, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court and was released on her on recognizance.

If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.

Beebe said the federal case against Shoffner appeared to be “ironclad.” He said he was “shocked by just how blatant the conduct was, based on the allegations.”

“When you’re elected to office, you’re put on a little bit higher plane in terms of making sure your conduct is even above reproach — even avoiding the appearance, much less actual breaking of the law. And the allegations are far more serious than appearance of impropriety,” Beebe said.

Others calling for Shoffner’s resignation:

— Democratic state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel:

“Having reviewed the criminal complaint filed (Monday) morning, I am deeply disturbed about the allegations against State Treasurer Martha Shoffner. If proven to be true, these actions are a betrayal of her oath to our constitution and to our people. Although Ms. Shoffner is presumed innocent, I believe that she should resign immediately to allow the work of the Treasurer’s Office to continue.”

— U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.:

“Martha Shoffner should resign and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Arkansas deserves better.”

— Bill Halter, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former state lieutenant governor:

“Martha Shoffner should resign immediately. Restoration of the public trust can only begin with the appointment of a new treasurer. Arkansans deserve to have complete confidence that their elected officials are not trading on their positions for campaign contributions, personal financial gain or future job prospects. Public officials are elected to serve their constituents and not to parlay the public’s trust into their own benefit.

— Mike Ross, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former 4th District congressman:

“Our elected officials must be held to the highest possible standard, and they must have the people’s absolute trust and confidence in order to effectively do their jobs. It has become clear that Martha Shoffner’s arrest and legal problems have broken the public’s trust. I believe it is in the best interest of the Treasurer’s Office and the state of Arkansas for her to resign immediately.”

— Will Bond, chairman, Democratic Party of Arkansas:

“We have reviewed the criminal complaint just released regarding the alleged acts of state treasurer Martha Shoffner, and we are shocked and disturbed by the allegations. While treasurer Shoffner has the right to be presumed innocent, Arkansas taxpayers have the right to have confidence that their money is being invested and managed properly. In order to restore public trust and to allow the treasurer’s office to operate its duties, we ask treasurer Shoffner to resign immediately.”

— Doyle Webb, chairman, Republican Party of Arkansas:

“While our justice system provides for her presumed innocence until proven guilty, the wrongful acts that are alleged are very serious in nature and are directly related to her official duties as state treasurer. The incompetence that has been uncovered, the criminal charges that are pending, and the distraction from her office that due process will involve make her unfit to continue in her service as state treasurer. For these reasons, she should resign immediately.”