Prosecutor gets wrist slapped by ethics board

Thursday, June 29, 2006

BERRYVILLE -- The Arkansas Ethics Commission has found that Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Rogers was in violation of state standards involving finances, according to letters obtained by Carroll County News.

Two letters dated June 7 were issued by Ethics Commission Director Graham F. Sloan stating that two letters of caution had been issued to Rogers, and that he was fined a total of $225.

The action was taken in response to Rogers' admission that he failed to timely file annual carryover fund reports for 2002, 2003 and 2004, and a complete carryover fund report for the third quarter of 2005.

With that action, a sanction was not imposed for his failure to file a complete report for the third quarter of 2005 based upon a showing of good cause, that being Rogers' reliance on the ethics commission's advice, which was apparently in error.

Four complaints were combined in a second action in which a second letter of caution and a $150 fine was assessed against Rogers. Again, no sanction was imposed.

In that, Rogers acknowledged that he violated state code by failing to disclose his wife's 401K plan in the statement of financial interest for 2002 and 2005, and failing to sign his statements of financial interest for 2002, 2003 and 2004.

A third letter, dated June 16, stated that the ethics commission did not interpret complaints regarding campaign contributions as being applicable to situations "where the public servant devotes any time or labor during normal office hours toward his or her own campaign for elective office."

That letter states that on June 16 the commission dismissed the matter unanimously, based upon "insufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause" that he violated state code by actually using any item of personal property provided with public funds for campaign purposes, and that he coerced an office employee to make a contribution to his campaign in the 2002 election cycle.

Sloan stated that the complaints were filed by Rogers' political opponent, Berryville attorney Cindy Baker.

Baker recently filed suit in Carroll County Circuit Court to have her declared the winner in the May 23 Democratic primary for the prosecuting attorney nomination, or to throw out the primary results entirely.

There is no Republican candidate for prosecuting attorney.

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