Martha Shoffner, pies and federal extortion charges
There are times when reading about Arkansas politics is too much fun. This, folks, is one of those times.
Now, some of us gave up long ago on the state government doing much that would benefit us overly much. At least we can be entertained every now and again by the folks we send to office.
Take the incredibly sad and strange case of State Treasurer Martha Shoffner. It would appear she’s well on the way of losing her job — along with its salary of $54,595 per year — so she could allegedly collect $36,000 over three years to pay the rent on an apartment in Little Rock.
Oh, and a lot of that cash was allegedly delivered to Shoffner in pie boxes. And, yes, pies were even included with the payments. Awesome.
You can read all the details in this article posted over at The City Wire in Fort Smith. You can also click here to take a look at a PDF of the criminal complaint filed against Shoffner on May 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The charge is extortion under color of official right.
We’ll go ahead and summarize what happened in this mess, which led to Shoffner getting arrested over the weekend. By the way, there’s reason enough to figure Shoffner was up to no good — she’s a Democrat (that doesn’t matter one whit as a crooked politician is a crooked politician regardless of party) and The City Wire reported that both Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Will Bond and U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) have called for Shoffner’s resignation. Yes, she’s in trouble.
Here’s the promised summary. Shoffner, a Newport resident, was elected to office in 2006 an reelected in 2010. An anonymous informant, who is a bond broker, told the FBI that he or she agreed to give Shoffner $12,000 a year in exchange for preferential treatment from the State Treasurer’s office. The payments were to be delivered every six months in the amount of $6,000, and the informant alleged two payments were made to Shoffner at the State Capitol, two at her home in Newport and two at her apartment in Little Rock.
The last two payments were the ones concealed in pie boxes, the complaint states, and were delivered to Shoffner’s home in Newport last year. The complaint does not state what kind of pie was bundled in with the payments. That’s a shame because graft goes great with a good slice of pie.
So, Shoffner got some pies and rent money, the broker got some business from the state for his money and the voting public was treated to yet another wacky tale of a corrupt Arkansas elected official. Political news is more entertaining, of course, when the Legislature is in session and passing goofy laws, but this’ll do for now.
Update: If you head over to the Arkansas State Treasury site, you’ll see that Shoffner was named 2010 Arkansas Politician of the Year by the Arkansas Democratic Party. No wonder Democrats in this state are furious with her.
Another update: KARK reports that Shoffner resigned today. Yes, the pie fan has left the building…
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.