Sec. of State Mark Martin's Property Tax Exemptions Questioned

Aug 19, 2014

Sec. of State Mark Martin (R)
Credit / Sec. of State's Office

A second Republican candidate in as many months is coming under scrutiny for allegations of illegally claiming too many homestead property tax exemptions.

Late last week the liberal, investigative blog Blue Hog Report looked into the records of Secretary of State Mark Martin, finding he claimed the tax credit for both of his homes since at least 2008. The law only allows the credit for one residence.

UALR political scientist Art English said the public might overlook isolated allegations like this but it feeds into a re-occurring impression of Martin’s office.

“There’s the perception anyway that depending on whether you’re talking to Republicans or Democrats that the office has been operated administratively ineptly. Those have been some of the criticisms of Mr. Martin and because of that he might have a conceivably tighter election race than normally an incumbent would for that office,” said English.

Martin has discounted criticisms for illegally claiming the tax credit, characterizing them as partisan attacks. The Secretary of State has said an error was made, blaming it in part on what he says is a complicated tax system. Martin has said he will repay cost of the credits as GOP gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson did late last month.

English said if people are paying attention the allegation could benefit Martin’s closest opponent, Democrat Susan Inman, even if she continues to focus on issues like Voter ID rather than alleged personal shortfalls and the hiring of outside counsel.

“When a candidate is having difficulty in respect to pejorative comments being made about his or her performance you don’t need to make any comments in a sense. You just sort of follow the old phrase, ‘to twist in the wind.’ But whether people are paying attention at this time and at this level of office is a another thing,” said English.

Martin and Inman also face Libertarian Jacob Holloway.