Justin Harris Diddles Kids' Welfare Committee, Must 'Rehome' It To Better Vice-Chairman

Get out your hip boots and emesis basins, because it's time for more news about horrifying human/pond scum hybrid Justin Harris, the Arkansas state representative who "rehomed" two adopted daughters with Eric Francis, a guy who raped one of them shortly before her sixth birthday. But despair not! Today's Justin Harris news only involves him abusing power, not children, so it's all good!

On Monday, Rep. Harris stepped down as vice-chair of the Arkansas House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative & Military Affairs, which has control over funding for the Department of Human Services (DHS), so he can spend more time with his lawyer and PR people, we guess. Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam seemed pleased at the development, if a tad vague about its significance:

We are focused very much on finishing out this session very strongly ... With that in mind...Representative Harris has asked that I find a new Vice Chair for the committee...so that that committee can do its job.

Harris also resigned from the Joint Performance Review Committee, possibly because he determined it was possessed by demons.

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Now, let's just see, what possible reason might Harris have for stepping down from the Children's Welfare committee, beyond the nightly hauntings by the ghosts of Irony Past, Irony Present, and Irony Yet To Come?

Could it possibly be Sunday's story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about a trove of emails between Harris and DHS that the paper obtained through a FOIA request? We're thinking it could be, although it would have been a much better story if it had actually included some substantial excerpts from the emails, not that we are telling anyone how to do their job. And what do we learn from these emails? Oh, just that Harris was not above throwing his weight around in order to push DHS to do what he wanted:

Several of the emails are from March 2013, when Harris was pushing to get the adoptions approved.

That month, Harris asked for a meeting with DHS officials and indicated that his wife might attend as well.

The meeting didn't get scheduled as quickly as Harris wanted. He later blocked legislation that DHS needed.

While the routine $1 million appropriation for DHS eventually passed, Harris blocked it the first time it came up in committee, mostly to show DHS that he could.

Taking to the floor of the House on March 19, he told his colleagues, "I have requested meeting after meeting with the state and with the mental health behavioral health, and I've yet to receive a meeting after requesting meeting after meeting.

"And I have requested that their budgets be stopped 'til I get a meeting, and it hasn't happened, and that's why today, just out of respect, I asked for this appropriation to be held," he said.

He urged colleagues to help him block the measure, and they backed him up.

Presumably, he then brained a House intern with a baseball bat to emphasize the importance of teamwork. After the vote, Harris wrote to Cecile Blucker, the head of DHS's Division of Children and Family Services, to impress her with his power, noting that the appropriation "failed miserably." The bill, he wrote, "Only garnered 36 votes. I told them there was a 7-year-old girl stuck in an institution, and yet waiting on a meeting." (The girl in question, incidentally, was not one of the kids Harris was trying to adopt). Apparently, the message got through: Blucker arranged the meeting soon after the legislative bludgeoning.

Harris's attorney, Jennifer Wells, told the Democrat-Gazette that Harris never blocked appropriations or held up legislation to pressure DHS in his own adoption case. Presumably because he had already demonstrated that he could hold things up in relation to constituents' issues just as well.

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The girls' previous foster parents, Craig and Cheryl Hart, reiterated and elaborated upon what they had said last week about Harris's apparent influence with Ms. Blucker.

Craig Hart said the Harrises tried to ram the adoption through, and that whenever there was a roadblock presented by someone in the process, he'd call Little Rock and talk to Blucker [...]

Cheryl Hart said it was clear that Blucker was pulling strings for Harris from Little Rock despite objections from caseworkers involved on the ground level.

"Whenever he didn't get his way ... he would call Little Rock. The next thing we know ... at court and different meetings, he'd say he'd called Cecile, or Cecile is OK with it, and Cecile said this is what you need to do," Hart said. "He dropped her name in every conversation."

And yet, Blucker is also the person at DHS whom Harris accused of threatening to charge him with abandonment when he and his wife tried to give the girls back because they were so out of control and a danger to the other Harris children. But maybe that alleged threat was all part of a supposed DHS vendetta against him for his strict oversight of the agency? So Blucker was both Harris's pawn and his nemesis, depending on what day it was -- and this apparently left Harris with much butthurt, a bad case of diaper Rashomon.

Yr Wonkette looks forward to bringing you continuing coverage of the Justin Harris Saga as it unfolds; what we would like to know is whether anyone has thought to check out the guy's crawl space. Just a suggestion.

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[Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / NWA homepage.com]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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