LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A former state legislator challenging Treasurer Martha Shoffner's re-election bid is calling the incumbent "Queen Martha" in a newspaper ad mocking her for her personal use of a state vehicle.
Green Party nominee Bobby Tullis ran an ad in this week's Arkansas Times newspaper headlined "Overthrow Queen Martha." The full-page ad is a cartoon showing Shoffner hitting an Arkansas State Police vehicle with a scepter and yelling: "Take that, manservants."
Shoffner apologized earlier this month after she referred to the state trooper driving Gov. Mike Beebe as a "manservant." Shoffner made the comments defending her personal use of a state vehicle.
Shoffner, a Democrat who was elected in 2006, has since said she'll pay income taxes for the personal use of her vehicle. Shoffner does not face a Republican opponent in the fall.
Tullis, who was nominated by the Green Party at its convention Saturday, said he would sell the state vehicle assigned to the treasurer and would not seek reimbursement for any use of his personal car for work. Tullis was a Democrat who served in the state House 1979 through 1992.
"Obviously the cartoon is a little hyperbole, but it's trying to make a point that we in public life if we get to serve are not entitled to things, not in this economic climate," Tullis said.
Shoffner's office said the treasurer did not plan on responding to Tullis' ad.
"She doesn't have any comment on a cartoon ad," said Karla Shepard, chief deputy treasurer.
Tullis has faced his own ethics problems over an offer he made to a rival for the Democratic nomination for state auditor in 1994. Tullis told Gus Wingfield in a handwritten note that they could make $1.3 million over eight years if Wingfield would give up the Democratic nomination for state auditor.
Tullis made the offer in a handwritten note to Wingfield after Wingfield beat him in the 1994 Democratic primary. Tullis told Wingfield that he and his wife could join Tullis' staff if Wingfield stepped down and Tullis won the general election.
Tullis, who lost a Democratic primary for a House seat in 1996, said Thursday he regrets making the offer and acknowledged it could come up as an issue in his challenge to Shoffner.
"It was just stupid and borne out of a sense of loss and misplaced ambition," Tullis said. "It was wrong and it was stupid and ... I paid a price for it."