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The Arkansas Ethics Commission voted to move forward on the complaint filed against tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet.

Hamlet is accused and has admitted (via his attorney) that he violated Arkansas Code Annotated § 21-8-701 by failing to file a Statement of Financial Interest form within 30 days of being appointed Director of ABC Enforcement.

Hamlet did not attend the meeting on August 19th, but was represented by Paul Dumas, a former Ethics Commission chairman and currently the attorney for the city of Morrilton.
Dumas, like Hamlet, has a sketchy past in that when he was chairman of the Ethics Commission, he was arrested on a domestic battery charge.  Dumas was absent from several commission meetings at the time and was the subject of several news reports.

It turns out that Hamlet did not attend a preliminary meeting back in June.  He was also represented by Dumas at that meeting.

Hamlet tried to downplay his crime and called it a "technical issue".

Turns out his attorney told the Commission in June, as he did on Friday, that they were admitting that Hamlet broke the law  Doesn't sound technical to me. The law clearly states a report shall be filed within 30 days.

The complainant, Russell Racop,  was allowed to address the Commission.

Racop told the Commission that he believed that Hamlet did not want to file the document because he would have to disclose that he had failed to pay state income taxes when due and his failure to pay taxes was a problem with the agency where he was going work and they have a policy not to hire individuals that owe past taxes.

Racop pointed out that Hamlet had a documented history of dishonesty and untruthfulness, beginning when he was fired as a trooper recruit by the Arkansas State Police (ASP) in 2000 and continuing for the next 15 years, buy filing false documents to hide his hiring and firing by the ASP to obtain positions in law enforcement that he would not have been able to obtain had he told the truth about his behavior and actions at the State Police which resulted in his termination.

Racop then told the Commission that a sitting judge had also made reference to Hamlet's issues with honesty, truthfulness and credibility in a case involving a FOI request to obtain records concerning Hamlet's firing by the ASP. Racop added that when he cross examined Hamlet in another FOIA case Hamlet admitted, under oath, that his credibility and honesty was an issue.

Racop next countered statements made by an Ethics Commission staff attorney,  Drew Blankenship, who was presented the complaint to the Commission.

Blankenship told the Commission that the governor's office often sent a packet to appointees that contained forms that they needed to complete or file and sometimes the appointees forgot to file the forms.

Blankenship stated he did not know if Hamlet had received one or not.

Racop told the Commission that Hamlet's failure to follow the law could not be blamed on anyone but himself; and that the law did not contain any reference to the governor's office having any responsibility to notify appointees about filing the forms o

Racop also stated that the law did not make exceptions for forgetfulness or stupidity. He also pointed out ignorance was no excuse of the law and Hamlet's wife is a licensed and practicing attorney and should have the ability and wherewithal to provide her husband some guidance in legal matters.

Racop ended his remarks by pointing out to the Commission that Hamlet could not make his offense null and void by filing the required form after the statutory time to do so has passed as elected officials could do with financial forms and the Commission had a preponderance of evidence to find that Hamlet had violated the law.

Dumas, Hamlet's attorney, then had the opportunity to address the Commission. Dumas did not make any remarks about what Racop had stated about Hamlet's problems with honesty and credibility. He stated that he agreed with what the complainant had said.

Dumas stated that in the meeting with the Commission that today as back in June, that he and his client admitted that he broke the law.

However, Dumas also attempted make it a technical issue by saying "my client filed the report 412 days late".

Dumas stated that his client filed the form a year too late and that the Commission should make a notation in their findings that Hamlet had not intentionally violated the law, suggesting that he was just too dumb to know better.
It is important to note that Hamlet would not have filed the 2014 report if not for the complaint to the Ethics Commission and this blog bringing his crime forward to the public (it is a chargeable offense to not file this form).

The Commission should not have a problem finding probable cause and make a finding that Hamlet violated Arkansas Code Annotated § 21-8-701 by failing to file a Statement of Financial Interest form within 30 days of being appointed Director of ABC Enforcement. 

Especially after his attorney stated on two separate occasions that both he and Hamlet admitted he violated the law.

We will have to wait and see if the Commissions final report has a note about Hamlet's intent as his lawyer requested,  as making a finding regarding intent does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.

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