I received a tip on Saturday afternoon that White County Judge Mike Lincoln was using the “White County Cleanup”–a time for county residents to bring garbage to the county fairgrounds and have it disposed of, at the expense of the taxpayers–as a campaign event. I arrived at the event to find this sign in front of the gate, on public property:
Here is a zoomed-in look at the figures you see in the background. In yellow is OEM Director Tamara Jenkins, the judge’s favorite county employee who used taxpayer money to purchase Thanksgiving dinner for her family, a heat pump, and a couple of trailers. Mike Lincoln is pictured leaning down, apparently looking at the truck’s tires. And Jenkins’ assistant is laying down in the back of the truck. I am not sure who the young lady is. There is also an older gentleman sitting down in the lawn chair next to Jenkins:
Here is another photo. At the far left you can see a sign that says “White County Cleanup ENTRANCE–>”
Here’s a zoomed in look at that photo. This was after the judge noticed my presence on county property and began yelling at me. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he began charging at me and so to avoid conflict, I left. His shirt features his campaign logo. You can see him front and center, facing the camera:
So what does the law say about using public property/publicly-funded items for campaign use? Well, let’s just say Judge Lincoln has several questions to answer.
1. Was the judge using publicly-funded property for campaigning?
From the Arkansas Ethics Commission:
(e) No public servant shall use for campaign purposes any item of personal property provided with public funds. “Campaign purposes” refers to the campaign of a candidate for public office and not efforts to support or oppose a ballot measure.
See the Suburban with the hatch popped? And the truck with the lights on top? Both county vehicles, paid for by you. Being used for campaign purposes.
2. Were the two county employees pictured here asked to attend the event and were they being paid by the taxpayers? We can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly a question worth asking.
Again, from the Commission:
(c) No public servant shall coerce by threats or otherwise any public employee into devoting time or labor toward the campaign of any candidate for office or for the nomination to any office. 
(f) No person shall assess any public employee for any political purpose whatever or coerce by threats or otherwise any public employee into making a subscription or contribution for any political purpose.
I think the words “or otherwise” in Section (c) are problematic for the judge here. Were the employees asked to attend? Were they being paid?
Also, in Section (f), “No person shall assess any public employee for any political purpose whatever.” The judge can say that this was not a “political” or campaign event, but by putting up a sign & wearing a campaign t-shirt, didn’t he make it one?
3. There is a clear double standard in Judge Lincoln displaying his sign on public property. I remember just a few short years ago when we had a rally on the courthouse lawn. Someone attending the event asked the judge if they could display campaign signs. He said yes, and then once they put them up, he went ballistic. He even went so far as to call the police and tried to have the whole event shutdown. He said, “I”m the keeper of the county grounds! You can’t do this!”
Well judge, you may be the keeper of the county grounds, but that doesn’t excuse you from unethical activities. You were probably right back in 2010 to not let the demonstrators post their signs on public property. So do you still agree that this is an unethical practice? If you do, then why would you do it? Would you allow your opponent to do it? Or do these special provisions only apply to yourself and those you support?
Keep in mind, this is a judge who has already been charged with a violation by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for breaking the law, but he said he ‘still didn’t think he did anything wrong’ after the ruling was handed down.
And a judge who is pictured here with Tamara Jenkins, who misused hundreds of taxpayer dollars, who he consequently rewarded with the purchase of a $320,000 building at the all-time high price of $590,000!
And he is still defending her nobility. So don’t expect any remorse from him after this incident.
And don’t think this is the first or only time that Judge Lincoln has used public property to promote his campaign.