Republican State Senator files ethics complaint against party member, quickly dismissed

Arkansas News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Republican State Senator Trent Garner of El Dorado filed an ethics complaint against party member, Senator Jim Hendren of Gravette, Friday with the Senate Ethics Committee that was quickly dismissed.

Garner filed the complaint citing Senate Rule 24.09 saying “Hendren of Gravette has violated the Senate’s Code of Ethics.”

In the most recent complaint, Garner cites 6 allegations of unethical activities that include:

  • 1. Senator Jim Hendren, in his role as President of Hendren Plastics, violated state minimum wage law for financial gain by manipulating the labor market and skirting compliance with labor laws.
  • 2. Senator Jim Hendren, in his role as President of Hendren Plastics, has a summary judgment against him in the case of MARK FOCHTMAN, et al., Individually, and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated V. DARP, INC. and HENDREN PLASTICS, INC. (CASE NO. 5:18-cv-5047) that shows a violation of a statutory provision.
  • 3. Senator Jim Hendren violated the law by failing to pay employees minimum-wage and overtime compensation for the hours they worked at Hendren Plastics.
  • 4. Senator Jim Hendren failed to pay mandatory state and federal taxes and insurance with holdings for the employees under his employment.
  • 5. Senator Jim Hendren entered a scheme with an entity that does business with the State of Arkansas to obtain low-cost labor for an indefinite period in an effort to obtain a competitive advantage.
  • 6. Senator Jim Hendren used the state’s drug courts to directly compete with private citizens in the Arkansas labor market for employment and to personally enrich himself.

Garner formally petitioned the Senate Ethics Committee to meet in a public forum to conduct an investigation.

The Senate Code of Ethics provisions Garner allege Senator Jim Hendren violated are listed below:

24.03 – Compliance with Law

Senators shall comply with all constitutional and statutory provisions relating to elected office. Violation of any constitutional or statutory provision shall be grounds for administering penalties as provided in the Senate Code of Ethics. Any penalty imposed by the Senate shall not bar any other civil or criminal proceedings.

24.06 – Prohibited Conduct and Conflicts of Interest

24.06 (1)(c) Seek, accept, use, allocate, grant, or award public funds for a purpose other than that approved by law, or make a false statement in connection with a claim, request, or application for compensation, reimbursement or travel allowances from public funds;

24.06 (1)(e) Pay below fair market value or charge above fair market value for any goods, products, services, or rents from a registered lobbyist or entity that does business with the State of Arkansas;

The Senate Ethics Committee Chair, Senator Missy Irvin, a Republican of Mountain View, quickly dismissed the complaint Friday afternoon.

“I expected this outcome,” Garner said in a Tweet. “Instead of following the Senate Ethics rules which require an investigation, the Senate dismissed the charge without any evidence being presented. This is the exact same situation President Donald Trump has to deal with.”

KNWA/FOX24 reached out the Hendren for a comment about the complaint.

“I appreciate the Senate’s immediate action to dismiss this as frivolous. It was clear this was nothing but a publicity stunt that distracted us from the real work we need to be doing,” Hendren said.

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