Tuesday, May 19, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Jack McNally fraud, thief

Jack McNally, the disgraced former Lonoke County assessor, was arrested for fraud last week after a lengthy investigation that began long before last May’s Republican primary in which he was defeated by Jerrell Maxwell after two terms.

McNally snuck into office with few credentials by running as a Republican when the party cleared out Democrats from nearly all county offices. He was a code-enforcement officer in Cabot under Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh.

McNally promised to reform the tax code during his campaign, something no county assessor has the authority to do.

He seemed to have little understanding of the job even after taking office. He also seldom reported to work, according to a former deputy who was fired for telling her boss to help her. She had worked for the county since 1999. She said McNally’s wife told her that she wished he would go to work because he mostly stayed at home on the couch watching TV all day.

After she was fired, other county officials were not pleased and soon found another job for her at the county courthouse.

McNally was also a no-show during Lonoke County Quorum Court meetings, where justices of the peace would often note his absence and commented that his input was needed for them to do their jobs.

As a code-enforcement officer, his professional record was even worse. He was suspected of stealing from vacant homes. In one case, he allegedly removed property, which was never recovered, from a backyard because he said he needed to mow the lawn. Lawnmowers were reportedly stolen, as well as barbecue grills and even a swing set.

No charges were ever filed, probably because then-prosecutor Lona McCastlain knew it would be difficult to prove. Firing McNally would have been an easier solution, but he wasn’t let go by the city until Eddie Joe Williams became mayor.

Former Cabot Alderman Odis Waymack knew McNally was not an honest city employee. Commenting on McNally’s arrest, Waymack told us, “I think he should have been arrested back in ’06 when he stole all that stuff. I think he’s always been a bully, forcing his way in. He’s just a thug as I see it.”

Waymack presumably told McNally as much when the two were involved in a scuffle at a candidates forum in Cabot back in 2010. Both men were convicted of disorderly conduct, but it’s hard to believe that Waymack — a legally blind octogenarian — was as responsible for the fight as McNally.

McNally went on to win that race by defeating Jerry Adams, who lost because he was a Democrat. But more accusations against McNally followed.

McNally was investigated for pocketing money from collection jars he distributed in the area to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. It would not have been the first time he ripped off veterans.

Last week’s arrest came after law enforcement discovered McNally did not disclose that he was a convicted felon when he filed to run for office. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to stealing nearly 5,000 military field coats from a government contractor.

That conviction made it illegal for him to vote, run for office or possess a firearm. A state investigator took away his gun when he was arrested. McNally claims he believed the conviction was expunged, but nothing in court records indicate that was ever done. He’s also accused of illegally using a county credit card for personal use.

Voters did the right thing when they turned him out of office last year. If he has any supporters left, they can join him at 9 a.m. July 6 in Lonoke County Circuit Court for plea and arraignment.