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House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, has appointed Little Rock attorney Scott Irby to the Arkansas Ethics Commission, Shepherd announced Thursday.

Irby replaces attorney Tony Juneau of Rogers on the five-member commission. Irvy's term will expire Dec. 31, 2024.

The Ethics Commission was established in 1991 with the passage of Initiated Act of 1990. It enforces certain state laws on ethics, conflicts of interest, lobbying, campaigning, campaign finance and ballot questions.

Irby has practiced law in Little Rock for the past 20 years and is now a partner with Wright, Lindsey and Jennings LLP, according to a news release issued by the state House of Representatives. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law and an Arkansas native.

Shepherd, who is an attorney, said Thursday in an interview, "I found the best person for the job, and somebody who would have a similar approach as I would have."

In the news release, Shepherd said, "Mr. Irby has not only earned recognition for being an outstanding attorney, he is known for being an individual of integrity.

"This appointment is an important one in ensuring our elected officials are held to the highest standard of conduct," he said. "I'm confident Mr. Irby will serve Arkansas well, and I thank him for his willingness to serve."

Irby could not be reached for comment by telephone at his office Thursday afternoon.

He joins Ashley Driver Younger of Little Rock, Alice Eastwood of Rogers, Lori Klein of Searcy and Sybil Jordan Hampton of Little Rock on the commission.

Hampton has served more than 13 months past the Dec. 31, 2018, expiration of her appointment. She was appointed to a five-year term by then-Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Jan. 15, 2014.

Her lingering time on the panel is unusual because ethics commissioners are usually replaced by state officials within a few months of their terms ending. The governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, House speaker and Senate president pro tempore make appointments to the commission.

Hampton, a former president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, hasn't grumbled about serving longer than she initially expected.

Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6- 217 (b) requires that state officials making appointments to the commission ensure there is at least one member of a minority race, one woman and one member of the minority political party. The latter must have voted in the preferential primaries of the minority party in the past two primaries in which the appointee has voted.

Irby, Younger, Eastwood and Klein have voted in Republican primaries in the past two primaries in which each has voted, while Hampton has voted in Democratic primaries, according to the secretary of state's records. Irby, Eastwood, Younger and Klein are white; Hampton is black.

That means Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is required under state law to appoint a replacement for Hampton that is a Democrat and of a minority race.

Last month, Rutledge spokeswoman Amanda Priest said, "We are diligently searching for the appropriate person to fill this position. ... We have interviewed several candidates, but they have been unable to serve because of their employment or they have declined because of the time commitment."

Asked when Rutledge expects to make her appointment, Priest said Thursday that Rutledge "has identified a highly qualified individual who has a strong understanding of the requirements for candidates and officeholders and will be making an announcement in the coming days."

Metro on 02/21/2020

Print Headline: LR lawyer Irby picked to serve on ethics board

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