About the Commission
The mission of the Arkansas Ethics Commission is to serve as the compliance and enforcement agency under Arkansas’ standards of conduct and disclosure laws concerning candidates for public office, state and local public officials, lobbyists and committees, and individuals involved with initiatives, referenda and other matters referred to the voters. The Commission promotes openness and accountability in government through a balanced approach to its statutory duties of interpreting, investigating compliance with and issuing sanctions for proven violations of Arkansas’ ethics and public disclosure laws. The Arkansas Ethics Commission was established in 1991 as a result of the voters’ approval of Initiated Act I of 1990. The Commission is made up of five members who serve five-year staggered terms and are appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, respectively. Members of the Commission serve without compensation, but may receive reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.
The Commission’s staff is composed of: One (1) Director; Four (4) Staff Attorneys; Three (3) Directors of Compliance; One (1) Systems Administrator; One (1) Fiscal Officer; and One (1) Administrative Assistant. The Commission’s authorities and responsibilities are set out in Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-6-217 and 218, and include: (1) drafting or reviewing and approving disclosure forms used by public officials, lobbyists, political action committees, candidates for office, and ballot and legislative question committees; (2) monitoring compliance with disclosure requirements; (3) issuing advisory opinions interpreting the ethics laws assigned to its jurisdiction; (4) investigating alleged violations of the law and determining whether a violation has occurred; (5) holding monthly public meetings and conducting public hearings; (6) issuing disciplinary action for violations of the law, or referring its findings to a prosecuting attorney for criminal proceedings; (7) answering questions regarding Arkansas ethics laws on a daily, informal basis; (8) preparing and distributing educational materials for candidates, elected and appointed officials, lobbyists, political action committees, and ballot and legislative question committees; (9) maintaining report files on all ballot question and legislative question committees registering in accordance with the Disclosure Act for Public Initiatives, Referenda and Measures Referred to Voters; (10) responding to questions and requests for documents under the FOIA (11) responding to questions and requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”); (12) making information publicly accessible in an electronic form via the internet; and (13) implementing and maintaining a reminder notice program. The Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure govern all proceedings before the Commission and are applicable to any complaints filed with the Commission.
INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC GUIDANCE The following was first posted online on June 30, 2003, in compliance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act of 2001: The Arkansas Ethics Commission was established in 1991 as a result of the passage of Initiated Act 1 of 1990. The Commission is comprised of five Commissioners who enforce certain ethics, conflicts of interest, lobbying, campaign, campaign finance, and ballot question laws within the State of Arkansas. Specifically, the Commission has jurisdiction over the following:
- Sections 28, 29, and 30 of Article 19 of the Arkansas Constitution;
- Ark. Code Ann. § 3-8-701 et seq. (entitled “Disclosure Act for Initiative Proceedings”);
- Ark. Code Ann. § 7-1-103(a)(1)-(4), (6) and (7) (concerning “Elections”);
- Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-201 et seq. (entitled “Campaign Financing”);
- Ark. Code Ann. § 7-9-401 et seq. (entitled “Disclosure Act for Public Initiatives, Referenda, and Measures Referred to Voters”);
- Ark. Code Ann. § 19-11-718 (concerning “Special State Employees – Conflicts of Interest”)
- Ark. Code Ann. § 21-1-401 et seq. (concerning “Constitutional Officers and Their Spouses”);
- Ark. Code Ann. § 21-8-301 through § 21-8-903 (referred to as “The Disclosure Act for Lobbyists and State and Local Officials”);
- Ark. Code Ann. § 21-8-1001 et seq. (pertaining to “State Boards, Commissions, and Entities Receiving State Funds”)
- Ark. Code Ann. § 23-115-501(e) and § 23-115-601(j) (concerning “Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Act” vendor/retailer gift/compensation prohibition); and
- Ark. Code Ann. § 25-1-125 (entitled “Taxpayer Funds Used for Advertisement”).
Members of the Commission serve five-year terms and are appointed one each by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House. Commission members serve without compensation, but may receive reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties. The Commission’s staff consists of a director, four staff attorneys, three directors of compliance, one fiscal officer, one systems administrator, and one administrative assistant, who are responsible for general administration and operation of the Commission’s office. This staff may make office administrative procedure, act as spokesman for the Commission, receive correspondence and correspond on behalf of the Commission, provide legal and other research to the Commission, investigate allegations of violations of laws under the Commission’s jurisdiction, and perform such other functions as the Commission deems appropriate.
The Commission’s office is located at 501 Woodlane Street Suite 301N, Little Rock, Arkansas. Its telephone numbers are (501) 324-9600 and (800) 422-7773. The Commission’s mailing address is Post Office Box 1917, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-1917. Persons may obtain access to public records of the Commission by visiting its office, viewing its website, or submitting a request for records. The following is a list and general description of the Commission’s records:
- Commission meeting records, including agenda, written minutes, and audio tapes of the meetings.
- Case files, including correspondence, complaints, and records of the investigation.
- Final action letters setting forth the Commission’s final action in cases before the Commission and the reasons for such action.
- Public letters of sanction, including letters of caution, warning, and reprimand.
- Records related to fines imposed by the Commission.
- Advisory opinions issued by the Commission on its own initiative or in response to written requests setting forth inquiries into matters under its jurisdiction.
- Ballot and legislative question committee records filed with the Commission, including: statements of organization, financial reports, and notices of dissolution.
- Forms and instructions published by the Commission for candidates, lobbyists, political action committees, ballot and legislative question committees, and other persons subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction.
- Records related to reminder notices prepared by the Commission including databases of public officials, candidates for public office, state boards and commissions, lobbyists, and political action committees.
- Records of review exercises, including memoranda and corrective action letters.
- Records related to training sessions conducted by the Commission’s staff including training materials and databases of newspapers in Arkansas.
- Rules promulgated by the Commission concerning campaign finance, lobbyist registration and reporting, gifts, and proceedings before the Commission.
- Records related to the administration of the Commission’s office, including (i) lease agreements: office space and equipment; (ii) financial records: budget information, payroll records, and invoices; (iii) employee records: personnel files, time sheets, and leave requests; and (iv) records relating to office equipment: inventories, meter readings of copiers and postage equipment, etc.
Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-218(b)(3)(B) contains a statutory exemption which affects FOIA requests to the Ethics Commission. Under that exemption, the Commission is required to keep all proceedings, records, and transcripts of any investigations or inquiries confidential unless (i) the respondent requests disclosure of documents, (ii) a public hearing is held in accordance with Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-218(b)(2), or (iii) judicial review of a Commission decision is sought pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 25-15-212. Ark. Code Ann. §7-6-218(b)(3)(C) provides that all records relevant to an investigation and upon which the Commission has based its decision shall become open to public inspection thirty (30) days after any final adjudication in which the Commission makes a finding of a violation.
|Scott Irby – Chairman
Scott Irby is a partner with Wright, Lindsey, and Jennings in Little Rock. He has a trial-oriented practice and focuses his attention on mass torts, complex commercial litigation, products liability, intellectual property, and real property disputes. Mr. Irby has served as lead trial counsel, in both state and federal courts, representing individuals and companies alike. Mr. Irby began his professional legal career as law clerk to Senior United States District Judge G. Thomas Eisele. After two years with Judge Eisele, he joined Wright Lindsey Jennings and has developed a reputation as an exceptional and respected litigator. Some of Mr. Irby’s more recent experience includes:
Mr. Irby is a member of the Arkansas and Pulaski County Bar Associations and the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel. In 2014 and 2015, Chambers USA recognized Irby as an “Up and Coming” attorney for his work in general litigation. He is recognized by Mid-South Super Lawyers in Class Action and Mass Tort, and is a Benchmark Litigation “Future Star.”
Term began in 2020
|Wendy L. Johnson – Vice-Chairman
Ms. Johnson joined RMP LLP as a Partner in July 2019. With over 12 years of experience as an Assistant United States Attorney, where she served as First Assistant United States Attorney, and eight years as a state Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Ms. Johnson provides clients a vast understanding of the enforcement functions of federal and state governmental and regulatory agencies. Ms. Johnson co-leads the Investigations and Corporate Compliance practice area, where she advises clients in all significant areas of governmental investigations, compliance, white collar crime, large-scale corporate internal investigations, and complex tax investigations. Ms. Johnson is a distinguished litigator, having tried many jury trials at both the state and federal levels and having argued numerous cases before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Term began in 2021
|Dr. John Pitts – Commissioner
Dr. Pitts has been a General Dentist in his hometown of Little Rock since 1993. He is a graduate of Little Rock Parkview (1983-1985) where he accepted invitations to Arkansas Boys State and the Arkansas Governor’s School (1984), the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (1985-1989), the University of Tennessee at Memphis College of Dentistry (1989-1993) where he served as class Vice President, and the California Implant Institute (2010-2012). Dr. Pitts also received a Masters in Oral Implantology from the California Implant Institute.
He was granted and maintains Fellowships in the following:
● 2009 – Pierre’ Fouchard for scientific contribution
● 2010 – The International Congress of Oral Implantology as a dental implantologist in both prosthetics and surgery
● 2011 – The International College of Dentists for charitable works
● 2012 – The California Implant Institute for dental implant placement
● 2012 – The American College of Dentists for excellence in ethics.
His work history over the past 29 years includes owner and dental surgeon for John D Pitts DDS PA (1993-2020), dental implant surgical instructor for the California Implant Institute in California and Mexico (2015-2018), claims reviewer and Special Investigation Unit member over Program Integrity (Medicaid Fraud Investigations/Appellate Clinical Reviewer) for MCNA (2017-2021), Director over dentistry for Ryan White Part B for the Arkansas Department of Health (2020-2022), claims reviewer for P and R Dental (2021-2022), and dental surgeon for Wellpath/Correct Care Solutions within the Arkansas Department of Corrections (2022).
His distinctions include: ● Dental surgeon for the Arkansas Mission of Mercy (2006-2019) ● President for the Arkansas State Dental Association (2015-2018) and President over its Central District (2009-2011) ● Director over Continuing Dental Education for the Arkansas State Dental Association (2010-2015) ● Board member for Women and Children First of Little Rock (2012-2017) while providing free dental care and fund raisers to the recipients of that charity ● Arkansas Chairman for the American College of Dentists (2012-2015) ● The representative dentist on the Arkansas Prescription Monitoring Program Advisory Board (2012-2022) ● Arkansas Deputy Regent for the International College of Dentists (2015-2018)
He is the recipient of the Arkansas Distinguished Service Award for Pierre’ Fouchard (2015), National Deputy Regent of the Year Award (representing the United States) for the International College of Dentistry (2018), and the Arkansas Distinguished Service Award from the Arkansas State Dental Association (2020). He maintains membership in all the aforementioned organizations in this biography. He holds current dental licensure in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Term began in 2022
|Miguel Lopez – Commissioner
Miguel Lopez is the Chief Community Outreach Officer for Encore Bank. Miguel is a graduate of UA Little Rock, where he completed a Master’s of Public Administration, a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. As Chief Community Officer, Miguel leads Encore Bank’s community outreach team and strategy across their 15 markets. Miguel’s accomplishments have landed him on many lists in state and national publications, including a list of the 250 most influential leaders in Arkansas. The Independent Community Bankers of America also recognized Miguel as one of its 40 Bankers under 40 and Hispanic Executive Magazine as one of its 30 Under 30 Latino leaders. Miguel is active in his local community serving as Vice Chairman of Goodwill of Arkansas and Chairman of the Excel Center school board. The state’s first and only adult high school. Miguel also helps with his family’s business, Mercado El Valle, located in Sherwood. In his spare time, Miguel loves to read, write, and ride his mountain bike.
Term began in 2022
|Jason Tolbert – Commissioner
Jason Tolbert is Vice President for Finance at Ouachita Baptist University, his alma mater, where he has worked since 2015. Prior to joining Ouachita, he worked at the Arkansas Baptist Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Alltel Information Services, and the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council. Tolbert earned a bachelor of science in education degree from Ouachita Baptist University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is a Certified Public Accountant and is active with the Arkansas Society for Certified Public Accountants. In the past, he was a regular contributor to Talk Business and Politics and wrote a weekly column for the Arkansas News Bureau.
Term began in 2023