Bookout announces resignation from Senate

Sen. Paul Bookout during a 2010 interview with Region 8 News.
Sen. Paul Bookout during a 2010 interview with Region 8 News.

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Sen. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro announced his resignation from the state Senate Tuesday evening, effective immediately.

Senator Bookout said in an email to Region 8, "I am announcing today my resignation from the Arkansas Senate effective immediately. I made the Governor and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate aware of my resignation today. I am thankful and grateful to the people who have allowed me the opportunity to be a voice for them in the State House and the State Senate on the important issues of our day."

A special prosecutor in Little Rock, Jack McQuary, was assigned to look into whether Bookout did anything criminal Tuesday afternoon.

Senator Bookout said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he resigned from his position with St. Bernards Healthcare on Monday because he felt it was best for both him and the hospital.

According to The Associated Press, the state Ethics Commission fined Bookout $8,000 and reprimanded him on Friday, after learning that he spent thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal use.

The panel also found Bookout did not itemize his spending in campaign finance reports filed to the state. It then ordered him to file new campaign finance reports detailing any spending more than $100.

More than 35 pages of financial reports revealed Bookout spent a lot of campaign money for items beyond politics. From March to May 2012, the senator spent more than $5,000 alone on clothes and accessories at a Jonesboro clothing store.

The reports also show he spent more than $8,000 for a home theater and more than $4,000 at a country club.

The finance reports also reveal Bookout transferred more than $18,000 from the campaign to his personal bank account.

According to The Associated Press, Bookout said he will reimburse his campaign $49,000 and repay contributors.

He has served in the state Senate since 2006. He was the chamber's president in the 2011 and 2012 sessions.

The state will hold a special election to fill the remainder of Senator Bookout's term. No dates have been set for the election.

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