Hey, Sarah Sanders Staffers, I've Lived in Arkansas My Entire Life
How long have y'all been here?
Dear Sarah Staffers,
I don't know much about y'all, but I did a bit of research because some of y’all appear in the hot seat.
As we say in South Arkansas: I see a lot of y'all ain't from here.
You, in fact, ain't from Arkansas at all but from all over. Texas. Florida. Iowa. Arizona. You'd think your boss is gearing up for national office instead of trying to govern the state where she was born and raised. Surely she knows plenty of capable Arkansans who could do your jobs. If she doesn't know, her dad, the former gov, certainly does. Hire local, I always say.
The Sanders Administration is making many people, including myself, who request documents under the Freedom of Information Act, to show valid proof of Arkansas “citizenship.” One could argue the word should be “residency”, but why get picky?
I am definitely a life-long Arkansan without having to show you my driver’s license or voter registration card. (But I will send the latter, if I must, to attempt to get the documents I want.)
Here's a bit about myself and Arkansas where my family on both sides homesteaded before and just after the Civil War.
Arkansas runs deep in me. Ever heard that song? Thinking not since some of you don't even know former governors (Frank White, for instance) of our state, according to one document I saw. Listen here:
See, I'm a sixth-generation Arkansan living in the actual county my ancestors settled. That's Cleveland County. Johnny Cash was born here. You might have heard of him.
I was born at Jefferson Hospital in Pine Bluff. Here's a snapshot of my birth certificate.
Look at my little foot prints.
In Pine Bluff I learned about politics at an early age. Know why? Watergate whistleblower Martha Mitchell was born there. She was a role model of mine when I was four years old watching Watergate on TV. Read about my admiration for Martha here.
Y'all don't forget the lesson from Watergate: The cover up is often worse than the crime.
In 1984, way back when Bill Clinton was governor, my parents and I moved to Russellville. I graduated from Russellville High School and moved to Beebe soon after graduation.
I planned to attend Memphis State University but my dad didn't want me on a huge campus out-of-state. He was a Korean War vet and a bit overprotective of his only child. So with less than a month before heading to Memphis, I opted to attend ASU-Beebe where I became the youngest newspaper editor in the state.
Guess who I got to interview then? The governor! Yep, Clinton. See?
I then attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Next up, University of Arkansas at Little Rock where I earned a master’s degree in journalism.
Work history? I interned and then worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for three years. I took obit writing to another level. You can read my Washington Post story about that here.
With Clinton in the White House rolling in controversy, I earned my stripes covering politics, and I definitely know a scandal when I see one.
As an independent journalist, I have written for The Daily Beast, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon, US News and The Daily Caller and picked up some awards along the way. I also wrote a cult classic book, too, about sex and an essay for Penthouse about censorship. Don't get a case of the vapors now. I won't bore you with more. You get the gist. There's always Google.
Before you label me some far-left extremist. Ha! I have covered Republicans, Democrats and fringe groups with all kinds of strange names.
Most importantly, I covered Gov. Mike Huckabee for years starting in 1997 soon after he became governor because of Jim Guy Tucker getting busted in the Whitewater scandal. Ask him.
I even had lunch several times with him, Janet and other family members at the Governor's Mansion. Your boss may have even been there.
When my dad nearly died in 2007, Huckabee sent me a personal email saying he was praying for my mom and me and let him know if I needed anything.
In 2008, I broke a story in U.S. News about Huckabee's future political plans after leaving the governorship.
Yes, I’m a rarity. I'm an independent journalist married to no particular news outlet except this one I co-publish. I call all things in life I see them. And the only way I see things are right or wrong.
By the way, I've had plenty of chances to move from Arkansas, especially to DC. But I decided to stay here because I love my home state. I never left. I stayed.
Have I made a few mistakes in my career? Yep. So don't start digging up that dirt on me. I'm an open book, and you can read about one of my mistakes here. I was tricked by an editor and fell for it. But it's way harder to fool me the older that I get.
Remember last month's slick move to try and gut the state’s Freedom of Information Act?
Arkansans — Republicans, Democrats and those who don’t give a flip about party politics — united to fight for transparency in their government. We aren't done.
We have a right to know, thanks to the late Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller. He wasn't born and raised here, but he loved Arkansas. The state greatly benefited from his leadership.
Rockefeller worked to give Arkansans the best Freedom of Information Act in the country. He was a Republican Yankee in a Democratic state but Arkansans embraced him.
He was a millionaire from the famous Rockefeller family, but he never acted highfalutin as we say here. It just never pays to act too big for your britches.
Rockfeller's legacy continues, and a lot of Arkansans will keep fighting against anyone who tries to destroy the gift he gave Arkansas – the right to know about what our state government is doing with our tax money.
I also see through this Tricky Dick move, asking for “citizenship” to obtain documents. That's simply a way to stall a FOIA request in hopes the requester gives up. I'm not giving up. In fact, I want to know more.
Don’t be fuming. I have some Southern hospitality in my genes, too. One day maybe I can take y'all on a tour of some of my favorite South Arkansas places.
I reckon Arkansas is likely a temporary spot for y'all before moving on to the next glam political gig. I, however, will still be living in the state I love where I pay taxes, which in turn pays your salaries.
Bless y'all's hearts,