Arkansas state treasurer nominee Mark Lowery has twice filed for personal bankruptcy, in 1998 and 2017, according to federal court records.
Lowery is a Republican state official from Maumelle who announced his candidacy for treasurer in January after several months campaigning for secretary of state.
In May 1998, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which under federal law requires the sale of a debtor’s unexempted assets and distribution of the proceeds to creditors, also known as liquidation. The case was closed later that year, documents show.
In 2017, he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which provides debt settlement for a person with a regular income, allowing the person to retain property and pay off debts over time, and is still in the process of paying about $68,000 in debt US dollars to settle on the latest registrations.
Lowery’s main opponent, State Senator Mat Pitsch, R-Fort Smith said Lowery’s financial history does not bode well for his ability to do the state banker’s job. According to the current incumbent’s website, the state treasurer is responsible for an investment portfolio of more than $5 billion.
“I understand it happens once, but when it happens repeatedly, that shows what your financial prowess is,” Pitsch said by phone on Friday. “You could not have those credentials and still be a bank president.”
Lowery said in an interview on Thursday that the state treasurer’s office has financial advisors and investment staff and that he would have no problem working with a strong staff. He added that his own setbacks allow him to empathize with voters.
“Do I think all the personal financial issues I’m having make me a better candidate? Yes. Because when they tell me, when Arkansans tell me that they’re having troubles, I understand. And I understand that sometimes these things don’t happen directly on their own,” he said.
Local media KATV and the Arkansas Times were the first to report on the 2017 filing earlier this year.
When asked by KATV reporter Marine Glisovic in February how many times he had filed for bankruptcy, Lowery replied that he had filed for bankruptcy once, according to her report. When asked for that answer by the Democrat-Gazette last week, he said he forgot the 1998 filing.
Lowery said his only fault in the case was a car, which he ended up returning to the bank. He said his income over the past two years has been managing a golf course property at the North Little Rock Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fort Roots and expects to have the opportunity for a long-term lease, which was instead awarded to the city of North Little Rock.
Lowery said it took him a few months to find employment that would have put him in a better position to keep the car.
Regarding the February 2017 filing, Lowery said he entered into a short-term loan modification agreement with the firm Nationstar Mortgage to obtain a lower interest rate.
Court filings show that Lowery sued Nationstar in February 2017, before his home was scheduled for auction at a foreclosure sale, for not telling him he didn’t meet the criteria for a loan modification or forbearance.
In the lawsuit, Lowery said he made payments on the mortgage, but the company began refusing them in the fall of 2016. A lawyer for Nationstar denied the allegations in Lowery’s lawsuit, according to court documents. Lowery’s attorney eventually moved to have the case dismissed. Lowery said Thursday he could not get a hearing before a judge and said he was in danger of losing his home.
“With time running out, my only option was to file for bankruptcy,” he said.
He also referenced a class action lawsuit against Nationstar alleging the company violated consumer protection laws, which resulted in a settlement in 2020. Lowery was not involved in this lawsuit.
According to court documents from 2019, Lowery has a 60-month plan to pay a total of $67,556.
The 2017 filing includes nearly $8,000 worth of credit card debt across various cards.
“It’s not uncommon to have credit card debt, but again, everything is reorganized and everyone gets paid,” he said.
Lowery was also sued by the state Department of Treasury and Administration for approximately $1,300 in unpaid individual income taxes in 2016 and 2017. He said this case was due to incomplete information on his mortgage deduction. The case was solved in 2020, records show.
The Republican primary is scheduled for May 24th. The winner will face Little Rock Democrat Pam Whitaker in the November 8 general election. Acting State Treasurer Dennis Milligan is on a tenure and is running for State Examiner.