Lawsuit against former city attorney dismissed

    Judge holding gavel in courtroom

    TERRICA HENDRIX
    Reporter
    LITTLE ROCK – A lawsuit filed against the
    City of Nashville and its then-city attorney has
    been dismissed.
    The lawsuit – filed last year by the Republican
    Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb
    against then-Nashville City Attorney Nate Steel
    – alleged that “Nate Steel violated the Arkansas
    constitution by having two positions and having
    his hands both in the treasury cookie jar
    of the City of Nashville and the cookie jar of
    the State of Arkansas,” Webb told the media
    last October. “An opinion by Attorney General
    Mark Pryor, 2002-209, clearly established that it
    is illegal to hold both the office of City Attorney
    and serve in the State Legislature. For this I am
    filing a lawsuit against George Nathan Steel for
    illegal exaction, for receiving funds from both
    the treasury of Arkansas and the city of Nashville
    for nearly three years,” Webb said.
    In the lawsuit filed less than three weeks before
    the Attorney General election where Steel
    was the Democratic candidate, Webb stated
    that Steel cannot hold two civil offices at the
    same time because he was the Nashville City
    Attorney and State Representative.
    “No Senator or Representative shall, during
    the term for which he shall have been elected,
    be appointed or elected to any civil office under
    this State,” according to the Arkansas Constitution
    Article 5, Section 10. However, A.C.A 14-43-
    319, states that “If no resident attorney of the
    city is willing to serve as city attorney or if no
    attorney resides within the limits of the city,
    the mayor and city council may contract with
    any licensed attorney of this state or the attorney’s
    firm to serve as legal advisor, counselor,
    or prosecutor until a qualified city attorney is
    elected or qualified.”
    “This lawsuit filed against me and my hometown
    is frivolous and I have no doubt it will be
    dismissed. However, nothing will likely happen
    until after Election Day, which highlights the
    fact that this is a political stunt,” Steel said
    last year. “It is clear that this has been filed
    in an attempt to distract from my opponent’s
    imploding campaign. The fact that it is filed 20
    days before the election, and before the FOI responses
    have even been fulfilled, clearly shows
    that my opponent and her supporters know
    that the momentum in this race is in our favor.”
    Steel explained that Nashville did not have
    resident attorneys who were available to counsel
    the city. Steel’s contract with the city of
    Nashville stated that, “It is being understood by
    and between the parties hereto that employer
    does not hold the office
    of city attorney, but shall
    serve as the city contracted
    attorney and counselor pursuant
    to A.C.A 14-43-319(2)
    (A).”
    “I was proud to represent
    the city [of Nashville] as
    state representative and I
    was proud to do legal work
    for the city,” Steel stated via
    telephone interview. “Both
    the city and the Municipal
    League and all other parties
    involved noted that there was
    nothing illegal or in any way
    improper about that work.
    However, in an effort to get
    this political lawsuit behind
    us, we reached an amicable
    settlement wherein we maintained
    that nothing improper
    was done but agree to help
    pay a small part of the costs
    associated with this lawsuit.
    For litigation going on for
    over a year, you can tell from
    the amount we agreed to pay
    just what kind of political
    nuisance lawsuit this was.”
    Steel confirmed Monday
    morning that he paid $2,500
    in fees and costs and the
    lawsuit against him was dismissed.
    “Both current city attorneys,
    Bryan Chesshir and
    Aaron Brasel, are currently
    serving as CA under the same
    statute that I did (and they
    too hold other offices), so
    nothing has changed. It is
    very common,” Steel ended.