Gov. Mike Beebe cleared his desk of pending legislation today, signing all but three bills by Sen. Bryan King to put more power over election oversight in the office of secretary of state, now held by Republican Mark Martin. Beebe vetoed these bills:
* SB 719, to create an investigative unit in Martin’s office to investigate election complaints, a power already given to the state Board of Election Commissioners. Beebe said the bill “transfers virtually unfettered investigative power and authority to a partisan-elected official over complaints against persons accused, sometimes by political rivals, of violating election laws. However, while the bill makes it clear that the unit “shall” investigate “any” such complaint, the bill makes no provision for those cases in which a complaint might relate to the activities of the secretary of state or his/her office, or persons running for that office. Placing such unfettered authority in a partisan-elected office is a profoundly bad idea.