Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mike Maggio's money trail: Money from nursing home owner who benefited from a key court ruling

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 4:27 PM

COINCIDENCES: Blue Hog tracks Judge Maggio's rulings with money flowing in the judge's direction.
  • COINCIDENCES: Blue Hog tracks Judge Maggio's rulings with money flowing in the judge's direction.

I've reported before
 on both Circuit Judge Mike Maggio's shocking reduction of a $5.2 million verdict against a nursing home to $1 million and the heavy contribution nursing home sources made in his initial campaign finance filing for Arkansas Court of Appeals.

Maggio dropped out of the Court of Appeals race after reports that he was under investigation by the Arkansas judicial ethics agency for comments on Tiger Droppings, an LSU fan website. They were racist, sexist, homophobic and juvenile. They also included a revelation about a confidential court matter, the adoption of a chld in Arkansas by Charlize Theron.

Blue Hog Report, which provided the first public reports on the specific contents of Maggio's remarks and whose sleuthing indicated that Maggio was the author of the remarks posted by "geauxtiger," has a further report today on Maggio's nursing home connection.

Boiled down: Seven nursing home PACs, all linked to Michael Morton, who managed the Greenbrier nursing home that benefited from Maggio's reduction of a damage award, were established about the same time by the same person, Chris Stewart. They have primarily given money to Maggio. The seven PACs received $21,000 in all on the same day, July 8. That happens to be the same day Maggio ordered a process that eventually led to the $4.2 million reduction in the verdict against the Morton-managed nursing home.  Eventually, the PACs contributed to Maggio, with a significant number of contributions coming on the same day, Jan. 28.

Blue Hog looks at the totality of related parties and events and sees an untwoard appearance. One man's opinion.

It's worth a reminder that Maggio's Conway friend and occasional companion on the campaign trail at Republican committee events, Rhonda Wood, was unopposed for a seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court. She got even more money from the nursing home industry, including Michael Morton affiliates, than Maggio. About $70,000, or more than half of the money she reported having received in her first finance support, came from that industry. Wood and Maggio were helped in fund-raising by former Sen. Gilbert Baker, a $132,00-a-year taxpayer-financed lobbyist for the University of Central Arkansas. Baker, before he stopped talking to me, said his bundling of money for these and Republican legislative candidates was done on his own time. UCA President Tom Courtway said Baker had a constitutional right to do this. Baker has long been associated with efforts to curb damage lawsuits and even was paid while in the legislature by a conservative PAC for shadowy political work he's never fully disclosed. He also has a private consulting firm, still listed in good standing on secretary of state records, that reportedly does government related work. His after-hours must be busy.

Another one man's opinion: Something is rotten in Faulkner County.

At least Maggio won't be sitting on nursing home appeals now. Wood will, unless she decides appearances might dictate recusal.

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