Tuesday, September 27, 2016

EDITORIAL >> McNally wears prison stripes

Former Lonoke County Assessor John (Jack) McNally was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison after pleading guilty to lying about his previous federal theft conviction when he filed to run for election in 2010.

He was also sentenced for credit-card fraud while he was the assessor and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He will be eligible for parole in one year.

McNally was convicted in 1986 for stealing thousands of military uniform jackets from a government contractor he worked for, which made it illegal for him to run for public office.

That conviction also should have disqualified him from working for the city of Cabot as a code-enforcement officer, another government job he held where he was also accused of theft.

When Eddie Joe Williams became mayor, he fired McNally and probably hoped that would be the end of it. But McNally hitched a ride on the Tea Party-fueled tidal wave of 2010, when Republicans wrested all but one county office from Democrats.

McNally needed a paycheck, which is why he ran for assessor. He was unsuited and totally unprepared for the job and defeated longtime Assessor Jerry Adams only because of party identification. McNally’s victory and time in office was a farce.

During his first campaign, McNally got into a scuffle with former Cabot Alderman Odis Waymack during a town-hall forum for candidates. Both men were convicted of disorderly conduct. At the time, we were stunned that Waymack, who is legally blind and is in his 80s, was equally blamed for the altercation.

Waymack’s conviction should be overturned and his $200 fine refunded now that it’s clear McNally is a fraud and a thief. Waymack deserves credit for standing up to a bully.

Lots of people must have known about McNally’s criminal record, but because they kept quiet, the public’s faith in government is further weakened at a time when cynicism and lack of trust about public service and elected officials are rampant.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham is trying to rebuild that trust. He asked the judge to sentence McNally to 10 years.

“In January 2011, McNally raised his hand and was sworn in as assessor. McNally knew he was a felon. He knew it was a lie and that he wasn’t supposed to be there. Voting is sacred. He hurt thousands of people who voted for him. He did it repeatedly until he was defeated,” Graham said.

McNally was led away in handcuffs after Friday’s court hearing and began serving his six years immediately.

It’s a victory for good government.