A pair of Arkansas Republicans have stepped up to the plate to defend an embattled state lawmaker accused of "rehoming" his adopted daughters to a rapist, using Facebook to attack the media coverage of their colleague.
On Wednesday, the Arkansas Democratic Party called upon Rep. Justin Harris (R) to resign following revelations that he and his wife made the "unilateral decision to move two of his adopted daughters into another family’s home" where one of the girls was sexually assaulted. The call for his resignation comes following a week of stories reported by the Arkansas Times, -- which originally broke the story -- containing interviews with Department of Children and Families staffers, previous foster parents, and baby sitters, saying Harris and his wife mistreated the two girls and have lied to the press about their dealings with the DCFS.
On Facebook, Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) got into an argument with a fellow commenter on a post linking to a Times story on Harris, saying she was "making a judgement based upon misinformation by a vile socialist anti-Christian propaganda blog about one of the most righteous seeming, humble, and gentle men I have ever met in my life."
In a series of comments screen-captured by the woman, Martin responded to her comment that Harris gave away the children "like they were animals he picked up at a shelter," by saying you have to have adopted a foster child to know what Harris and his wife had gone through.
"Unless you have adopted a child and experienced what adoptive parents go through, I think there is very little you have a right to say. This judgement against the Harris' [sic] is the most hypocritically self-righteous bull I have ever heard," Martin responded. "People like you are what makes people refuse to risk fostering or adopting. I believe it is people like you who are the problem. Not people who try and fail like the Harris' [sic]."
After more back and forth, Martin concluded sarcastically, "You gots me. I am so dumb. You so smart. I sorry."
Fellow Republican state Rep. Dave Meeks used his own Facebook page to defend Harris, describing him as a friend and saying the Times is "out to destroy Conservatives, Christians."
Meeks, who immediately introduced a bill banning rehoming following the Harris revelations, stuck up for his friend and fellow lawmaker, saying the assault on Harris is an assault on Christianity and would have an impact on the ability of the state to find families willing to take in foster children.
"I know this might anger some people, but I don't throw someone I consider a friend under the bus. Yes, I am speaking of Rep Harris. He is someone I have gotten to know and has built up credibility with me," Meeks wrote. "The tabloid that is doing most of the reporting on this has no credibility with me whatsoever. The experience that I have had with this tabloid is that they are out to destroy Conservatives, Christians and are willing to spin, lie, or make up stuff to do it."
Meeks conceded that the reporting by the Times could be true, adding that he still believes his friend.
"Could any of the reporting by this tabloid be true? Of course. Is any of what Rep Harris saying the truth? Most definitely."
Like Martin, Meeks maintained that the stories about Harris could ultimately have a damaging effect on foster care and adoption in Arkansas.