Paying for Margaritaville

Benton (KATV) -

Financial decisions made by Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington are no doubt questionable.

A prosecutor will decide if any are criminal.

By this time Friday Saline County Prosecutor Ken Casady will have on his desk records involving Sheriff Pennington's use of his county issued credit card.

There are several red flags.

Sheriff Pennington used his card for hotel rooms and restaurants.

But one charge stood out immediately.

"The first week of August I entered into an in-patient treatment facility to address my personal issues."

That is what Sheriff Pennington told the media on August 26th immediately following his guilty pleas to the misdemeanor offenses of public intoxication and resisting arrest.

But county records show that right in the middle of the first week of August, Sheriff Pennington was using his county issued credit card to pay for a room at Margaritaville Hotel in Bossier City Louisiana.

"My wife has kin folks that live close by in Longview and she likes to go there," offered Pennington when asked why his county credit card statements reflect multiple stays in Bossier City.

Pennington says his lawyers prepared the statement he read following his hearing and that they had the date he started rehab wrong...and he didn't catch it.

Pennington says he checked in August 8th.

In addition to the hotel stays there are several restaurant tabs that Pennington rang up and reimbursed the county with checks written on his campaign account, which he says he was using as a personal account.

"That wasn't campaign money," says Pennington. "That was Bruce Pennington money. Because I am smart enough to know that you can't use campaign money for personal gain or whatever you want to call it. I do know that."

Late Thursday afternoon Saline County prosecutor Ken Casady released a letter to Judge Robert Herzfeld in which he suggests that an alternative provision in the Arkansas Constitution...a provision that has not been widely used in the past...might be worth considering for those who think Sheriff Pennington's behavior warrants his removal from public office.

Also Thursday evening the Saline County Republican party planned to meet to discuss removing Sheriff Pennington from the party.

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