Friday, February 27, 2015

Hutchinson era good for GOP chair's family

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 6:53 AM

click to enlarge LOOK WHO'S TALKING CONFLICT OF INTEREST: GOP Chair Doyle Webb now has a couple of kinfolk in top state jobs thanks to GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson. - KUAR
  • KUAR
  • LOOK WHO'S TALKING CONFLICT OF INTEREST: GOP Chair Doyle Webb now has a couple of kinfolk in top state jobs thanks to GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that, at Gov. Asa Hutchinson's urging, the state Workers Compensation Commission had chosen administrative law judge Barbara Webb to be the new head of the agency to succeed the retiring James Daniel.

Webb will get a pay increase from $98,852 to $126,572, the Democrat-Gazette reported.

Webb is the wife of Doyle Webb, chairman of the state Republican Party.

The news follows by two weeks the announcement that Gov. Hutchinson had named Becky Keogh, who's been a gas and oil company regulatory manager, as head of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Becky Keogh is Doyle Webb's sister-in-law — Barbara Webb's sister.

It so happens that a message from Doyle Webb passed through my mailbox this week. He joined the orchestrated Republican Party attack on likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for donations made by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state. It's a fair issue and worth inspection. I think, in many cases, it can easily withstand scrutiny — money for Haiti relief from Algeria, for struggling farmers in Malawi from the Dutch and for HIV detection and treatment in Africa from Germany.

Webb's statement said the money for hurricane victims and HIV patients and three-acre soybean farmers should be returned. It's the only solution, he said. He commented: "Hillary Clinton is a walking conflict of interest."

By taking money from foreign governments, she has compromised the integrity of the American political process—essentially showing that anyone can buy a favor from a Presidential candidate. 

None dare edit that sentence to make it apply to a political party chief whose wife and sister-in-law just got fat jobs courtesy of the man he helped elect as governor. And they head agencies where major players in campaign contribution politics have important business every day.

PERSONAL DISCLOSURE: While agreeing with the need for transparency and with concerns about creating appearances of influence-building between gifts and the secretary of state, I'm  personally influenced in my thinking by my daughter's work at the Clinton Foundation. It includes soliciting grants such as the Dutch and Germans have given and working in places like Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Myanmar to better the lives of people there.

In part on account of that personal conflict, and also because I figured I'd said plenty on the subject before, I'd decided to pass up Webb's press release without noting his own personal ethical record. But recent Arkansas family matters seem to make the latest news worth a link.

In short: Look who's talking.

PS: A further thought, and it is a tribute to Webb's bulldog effectiveness as an unceasing Democratic critic during the GOP years in the minority:

Had Mike Beebe appointed Vince Insalaco's sister and sister-in-law to head agencies important to major campaign contributors, how long would it have taken for Doyle Webb to call a news conference?

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