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The Arkansas Ethics Commission held a hearing on a complaint regarding former ABC Deputy Director Rick Crisman last Friday. Crisman did not make an appearance in his own behalf.

The complaint and an investigative report prepared by Ethics Commission staff was presented by Drew Blankenship, a staff attorney for the Ethics Commission. 

After presenting the complaint, Blankenship read into the record statements obtained by Ethics Commission investigators from Crisman, Michael Langley , former ABC Administration Director and Bud Roberts, the current ABC Administration Director.

Crisman's statement attempted to deflect responsibility to former ABC Administrative Director Michael Langley, who Crisman stated gave approval to use material Crisman obtained in the course of his employment in connection with his smartphone application.  Crisman's statement also included an odd remark about him not having deleted emails prior to his departure from the ABC. Crisman also whined a little about how he was forced to resign without a chance to appeal. Crisman also disputed reported income from the mobile application.

Langley's statement reflected that he told Crisman he "wanted to be a part" of the application team, apparently as he thought it would be a money maker. Langley appeared to distance himself from an official approval of the use of the material Crisman used in the mobile application with some mumbo jumbo legalese.

Roberts stated that he was not aware of the FOIA request for information about Crisman (emails, documents. etc.) until after a complaint had been made to DFA.  He said that an ABC attorney and other staff had handled the FOIA request without apprising him. Roberts said that he was bothered than an ABC employee would be selling such an application and that it appeared to be a conflict as the ABC offered for sale another guide (ID Checking Guide).

The complainant testified that he did not know Crisman nor had he ever met him. He stated that as he was doing research about the ABC and the department employees, he discovered that Crisman had developed a smartphone application using material that he had obtained from other states using his position as Deputy Director of the ABC and had not advised the other states that he was going to also use the information they provided to him for his own use in a smartphone application from which he would derive income. The complainant stated that the use of the information by Crisman violated state laws and that the legislative intent was that no state employee was to benefit or personally gain from information obtained in the course of employment by the state of Arkansas.

The complainant stated that Crisman's former boss, Langley, who was an attorney should have known that he could not ignore the laws the legislature had passed and had no authority to tell Crisman, if he actually did, that it was okay to break the law.  If that was the case then Langley would be an accessory. He stated that after the ethics complaint had been filed, he found that Crisman had obtained out of state driver’s licenses that had been turned in when exchanged for an Arkansas driver’s license.  He explained that DFA has a written policy that the licenses are to be shredded.  He stated that Crisman, who worked in a revenue office in Fayetteville, was somehow able to obtain quite a few of the licenses that were to be destroyed. He explained that he had contacted some of the individuals and had asked them if they had given permission to or had been told by a revenue agent that their license would be given to the ABC.  All stated that they had not.  He stated that Crisman’s actions gave the appearance that rules and regulations did not apply to him because he was a deputy director of the ABC.

He ended by stating that a preponderance of the evidence showed Crisman was in violation of DFA policy/procedure and state laws and the Commission should find that he had violated the state laws.

Blankenship remarked that the complaint was the most detailed and through complaint made to his office that he had presented to the commission.  The chairman, William Bird, echoed those remarks.

The documents used in the hearing could not be removed from the room or copied.  Once the Ethics Commission makes a finding (usually within 30 days), the documents will be made public. If Crisman is found to have violated state laws, the Ethics Commission will make a settlement offer to him that could include a letter of caution and a fine.


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