LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner apologized on Wednesday for referring to a state trooper protecting Gov. Mike Beebe as a “manservant,” the latest dustup among the state’s top Democrats over the personal use of government vehicles.
Shoffner made the comment as she defended her personal use of a state-issued vehicle and her refusal to pay taxes on the personal usage of the car. Shoffner told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story published Wednesday that she took issue with Beebe’s defense that he doesn’t have to pay income taxes on rides he receives from his state police security detail.
“The governor has a manservant driving him around,” Shoffner told the paper. “If the governor is going to say he’s exempt, why wouldn’t we be exempt? We’re all constitutional officers.”
Shoffner apologized on Wednesday afternoon for the remark and said she was trying to “lighten up a very frustrating situation.”
“Making light of the situation was an unintentional and very regrettable mistake,” Shoffner said in a statement released by her office. Shoffner, who did not return calls seeking comment from The Associated Press, called the comments “unsuitable” and apologized to state police and Beebe.
Beebe’s office earlier Wednesday denounced Shoffner’s comments.
“The governor believes that Miss Shoffner does owe the state police an apology. The executive protection detail is a group of highly skilled state troopers and labeling them as manservants is inappropriate,” Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said.
DeCample later said Beebe accepted her apology.