An Arkansas scandal of biblical proportions
Justin Harris, above, is godly Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives – but for how much longer is anyone’s guess, given the unholy mess he currently finds himself in.
At the heart of his problems lies the rape of a six-year-old girl.
According to this Wonkette report, he and his wife adopted two little girls, aged three and six, who were in foster care. After a year, the Harrises “grew tired” of the kids, and handed them over to another another family. The new adoptive father, Eric Francis, above, then raped the older girls
Francis, now serving a 40-year term in prison for the assault, had worked as head teacher at the Growing God’s Kingdom Preschool, a fundamentalist Christian outfit owned by Harris and his wife, and funded by taxpayers. Francis was also a youth pastor at a local church.
In late 2011, Harris tangled with the Arkansas’ Department of Human Services agency over overtly Christian practices at Growing God’s Kingdom, which receives public funding under the Arkansas Better Chance Program.
At the request of an organisation promoting separation of church and state, a DHS inspector investigated whether the preschool was using taxpayer money to peddle Christian propaganda; she found regularly scheduled Bible study in most classrooms, scripture posted on the walls and children singing “Jesus Loves Me”.
The preschool’s handbook promised parents that teachers and staff would:
Strive too [sic] ensure that your child feels the love of Jesus Christ while preparing them for Kindergarten.
The preschoolers, it continued, will be taught “the word of God” so that they can “spread the word of God to others”.
This is pretty damned appalling, but even more so because the devout Harris, according to Wonkette:
Is a small-government conservative who likes to say that government spending never created a single job – and whose daycare business depends almost exclusively on taxpayer-subsidized tuition.
Harris’ business operates on almost $900,000 a year and serves about 150 kids. Of that, all but about 6 percent comes in the form of state and federal dollars in a program aimed at developmentally disabled and poor children. The money provides Harris and his wife almost $60,000 a year in salary and benefits.
It also covers the mortgage on his privately owned building and rent payments to the Harrises. So the government spending hawk lives on government spending, a double dip of payroll, perks and rent payments.
In addition, Wonkette reported, while Harris was pushing a bill to deny state services and in-state tuition to any Arkansas residents who couldn’t prove they were US citizens or legal immigrants, Growing God’s Kingdom Preschool was happy to take government subsidies for:
Perhaps a dozen undocumented students among his 150 pre-schoolers … It’s rather rich that Harris was seeking to deny benefits to some undocumented people while collecting taxpayer money for others.
And Wonkette quoted columnist Max Brantley as saying:
An anti-tax, anti-government-spending, anti-illegal-alien legislator is living off a government program that includes payments for kids who haven’t produced proof of citizenship.
By the end of this week, the hypocrite’s reputation was tatters – but another blow was to follow. A social worker, Lisa Southerland, has just launched a petition addressed to Governor Asa Hutchinson, calling for the resignation of Harris.
After pointing out the Harris’s failure to properly deal with the two girls he later “gave away”, Southerland wrote:
His ability to represent those of Washington county without distraction has been severely compromised as this story continues to grow worldwide. It is time for these girls to heal and for Mr Harris to understand the depth with which he failed these children.