Rogers City Attorney Investigated For VIP Drink Sues Mayor, Council Members
ROGERS (KFSM) – The Rogers city attorney is suing city leaders, saying they broke the law by stripping him of many of his duties after the city council passed an ordinance last month.
City attorney Ben Lipscomb filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville on Wednesday. He seeks a jury trial and a declaration that the passed ordinance is unconstitutional because it singles out Lipscomb and curtails his job, the suit states.
The Rogers City Council approved an ordinance Sept. 23 isolating the city attorney’s duties to prosecutorial matters. A new staff attorney position, filled by Chris Griffin, takes over civil matters and acts as the city’s legal advisor, jobs that Lipscomb states should fall under his own duties.
Griffin served as the deputy city attorney from 2005 to 2008, according to the city website.
When Lipscomb was initially elected city attorney in 1997, the city attorney duties outlined by city ordinance include all civil and criminal matters, as well as representing the city and acting as a legal adviser on Rogers city issues, the lawsuit states.
Lipscomb’s most recent four-year elected cycle began in 2010, the suit states.
The lawsuit names Mayor Greg Hines and city council members as defendants. The suit states Lipscomb’s duties were stripped as “punishment,” although it does not go into detail.
Lipscomb was involved in a criminal investigation by a special prosecutor in August and September. Crawford County prosecutor Marc McCune investigated whether Lipscomb broke any laws by using a city badge to gain entry into a VIP tent at a Miranda Lambert concert over the summer at the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, according to investigation documents released by McCune’s office.
McCune announced Sept. 5 that Lipscomb would face no criminal charges in the matter. McCune was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case to avoid any conflicts of interest by local prosecutors.
The mayor told 5NEWS the same day that Lipscomb’s actions were “egregioius” and “troubling.”
“The greater concern is an elected official thinking it’s OK to use his position to gain access to a restricted area for the sole purpose of obtaining a cocktail,” Hines said. “If getting a drink is so important, buy the VIP tickets.”
Lipscomb could not be reached for comment.
Emergency call logs show police and fire department crews responded the same day to Lipscomb’s Rogers home in reference to a medical emergency involving a family member. Lipscomb waved off emergency responders, telling them everything was OK, according to a 911 call. No one was hospitalized in the incident, and police are not investigating, according to the Rogers Police Department.