In recent years, news articles abound regarding the filing of personal bankruptcy by public officials. These incidents are sometimes harmful to the individual's political career but not always. Where the debts comprising the bankruptcy are typical consumer bills, the public in Arkansas and elsewhere is more inclined to have an understanding perspective toward the person's need for help.
For example, a female member of city council in a small northeastern town recently filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. She did this primarily to eliminate over $100,000 of credit card debt and other unsecured bills that she claims have built up over the past seven or eight years. Interviewed by reporters, the woman stated that she is a mother who has two kids and has to pay a mortgage, which has made it a difficult struggle.
The woman is employed at the Bristol County Sheriff's Department in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She is a work-release coordinator. She earns over $50,000 at that job and earns over $21,000 as a councilwoman. Because her mortgage is apparently up-to-date, and the equity owned in the property is a small amount that qualifies under federal exemptions, she will continue paying her mortgage during and after the bankruptcy.
The mortgage thus passes through the bankruptcy unaffected under those circumstances. She claims that when she contacted credit card companies to reduce interest payments, the companies would not work with her. She stated that one card is charging her 29 percent interest.
Other council members contacted would not discuss the woman's personal financial problems. However, one councilman defended her right to proceed with bankruptcy relief. He also denied that the filing would affect the woman's ability to handle the town's finances. He pointed out that federal, state and local governments are predominantly in the red on their budgets and having similar difficulties. The prevailing opinion of people in Arkansas and other states is that it is the person's private business, and is not usually a matter of public concern.
Source: southcoasttoday.com, "New Bedford Councilor-at-large Naomi Carney files for bankruptcy", Curt Brown, April 8, 2015