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h1

Past As Prologue: Josh Johnston in 2012

February 14, 2012

Well this is interesting and more than a little telling.

When Max Brantley spoke to Rep. Josh Johnston today, Johnston indicated that he was not running for reelection in 2012, citing the new size/shape of his district. OK, fine. I mean, we should all still hold it against Johnston and the other reps (both Democrat and Republican) that Johnston will apparently not be removed from office, but at least he’s not going to run for reelection and force someone to sue to have him removed from the ballot.

Wait . . . what’s that?

He’s running for Sheriff of Cleburne County, you say?  Why, you must’ve read the caption on the picture to the left.  Pretty clever, you are.

Also, you are correct:

Of course, as you might remember from last October’s Cody Hiland-Kenney Cassell story, a conviction for a misdemeanor involving an element of dishonesty disqualifies a person from holding the office of county sheriff just as much as it does for state Representative.  (To Cassell’s credit, he actually admitted his conviction to the people of Faulkner County during the race.  That’s more than you can say for Johnston, not that acknowledgement of guilt would change the ultimate outcome here.)

If there’s good news, it’s that county sheriffs are not protected from being removed via court action the way that Representatives are.  So, on the off chance that Johnston some how gets through the election without being challenged, that won’t be the end of the story, and we won’t have to rely upon a recalcitrant House protecting one of its own.  Which is always nice.

Here’s where it really gets interesting. Under Arkansas Election law, candidates for sheriff have to file the same affidavit of eligibilty (p. 91 of the linked PDF).  That affidavit requires that the candidate attest he or she is “eligible to hold the following office if elected,” and the affidavit must be notarized.  Now, under the Arkansas Criminal Code, a person commits false swearing if, other than in an official proceeding, he or she makes a false material statement, knowing it to be false, under an oath required or authorized by law. False swearing is an A misdemeanor.

Now, even if we assume that Johnston really did not realize that he was ineligible to be a state Rep at the time he filed his affidavit in 2010, one has to assume that Johnston is now well aware of the problems his past conviction pose for him as a candidate if for no other reason than it’s been extensively covered online and the Hiland-Cassell story predates Johnston’s filing for the 2012 race.  It’s almost impossible to conceive of a fact pattern that doesn’t end with Johnston’s being on notice that his 1995 conviction raised serious eligibility issues.

***

Finally, in case you didn’t actually click the image above and look at the enlarged campaign announcement, allow me to clip one nice bit of irony for you:

Yes, let him speak to you about his qualifications.  That should be a fun chat.