Republican Rep. Joe Jett is drawing political fire for the disclosure Sunday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he’d loaned House Speaker Jeremy Gillam $16,000 in 2016 shortly before the financially strapped Gillam appointed him chair of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Ryan Carter of Corning, Jett’s Democratic challenger in District 56, has issued a news release urging voters to repudiate Jett.
Our current State Representative gave a $16,000 loan to the man who controlled whether he got to be reappointed as Chairman of the Tax Committee or not.
This is a clear conflict of interest and it’s the exact kind of behavior that causes Arkansans to lose faith in our political process and in our state’s elected officials.
This is not a partisan or one party problem. This loan took place when my opponent was still a Democrat member of our State House. Many officials in both parties have faced ethics scandals this year. Ordinary Arkansans are tired of it!
If elected, I will hold myself to the highest standard of ethics. I’m running for this office because our area needs help. I am not running for my own personal gain. You can hold me to that!
In 2016 when my opponent was still a Democrat, he loaned $16,000 to the Republican Speaker of the House, Jeremy Gillam. Gillam had complete control over appointments to committees and the power to determine whether my opponent would remain the chairman of the powerful House Committee on Revenue and Taxation.
In December of 2016 my opponent switched parties to become a Republican. In January Gillam reappointed my opponent as Tax Chairman.
It’s easy to see how giving a huge loan to a man who decides if you get a powerful job or not is unethical.
Jett is popular in his district. Carter, a Walmart employee for five years until the Corning store closed in July, is the longest of shots in this race. On this issue, however, he happens to be right. Jett did himself no favors on Twitter yesterday in complaining about Michael Wickline’s disclosure in the Democrat-Gazette.
I’m saddened and disheartened by this newspaper taking a story of friendship and goodwill to a place where it cast doubts on peoples good and honorable intentions. The fact remains, just because a person is a legislator does not preclude him of the obligation of being a friend
— Joe Jett (@joe_jett) September 23, 2018
I was saddened he and other legislators have so little concern for ethical appearances. I also liked the comment by Jay Barth.
Joe, he may be a friend but he was also a colleague making decisions about legislation you cared about and positions you wanted. When you’re in public office, you’re a public servant first. Guess I’m just naive but today’s @mikewickline story still shocked me. What a cesspool!
— Jay Barth (@jbarth4arkansas) September 23, 2018