Complaint claims candidate glazed over ethics rules by sending donuts

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. – After a candidate for county judge in Mississippi County sent donuts to county offices with his campaign literature attached, he ended up on the receiving end of an ethics complaint revealed on Nov. 1. However, there’s debate surrounding the validity of the complaint.

The donut-delivery happened back on or near April 4, the complaint obtained by Blytheville Courier News says. To each county office in Mississippi County, candidate John Alan Nelson sent a box of donuts “bearing his campaign literature or stamp.” In other words, he sent them sweets and asked them for a vote. It seemed innocent enough, but Arkansas Code prohibits public servants from circulating campaign material to public offices during regular hours of business.

(B) It shall be unlawful for any public servant, as defined in 21-8-402, to circulate an initiative or referendum petition or to solicit signatures on an initiative or referendum petition in any public office of the state, county, or municipal governments of Arkansas or during the usual office hours or while on duty for any state agency or any county or municipal government in Arkansas
– Arkansas Code 7-1-103(a)(3)(A)

Nelson held no office and still doesn’t, he told the Courier News. But the definition does not seem to be limited to that of merely elected office holders.

Arkansas Code 21-8-402 (18) states, “(18) “Public servant” means all public officials, public employees, and public appointees;”

Nelson is a former Justice of the Peace but his background contains no present indication of being a public servant. He told reporters he was not a public servant when asked about this story.

The complaint was filed by James “Crab” Watson, according to the newspaper.

1 Comment

  1. Stan, I enjoyed your headline for this story. It put the story in an appropriate light with a touch of humor and a double meaning for “glazed.” The addition of the last line of the story with the complainant’s nickname of “Crab” finished well. I appreciate your reporting work overall and a bit of humor never hurt any of us. Thanks.

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