Favorite

New Ark. GOP broom, same dirt 

The Arkansas Republican Party made great sport as the minority party of chronicling Democratic Party cronyism and corruption.

But their promise to bring a cleaner, more transparent day to Arkansas politics as majority party? Broken.

Within recent days: Republican state auditor candidate Rep. Andrea Lea said she hadn't recalled that a political hack who pushed out a long-time licensing board director to take the light-duty job at much higher pay had been an unsuccessful Republican candidate against Democratic Rep. Jim Nickels. Oops. Lea gave the candidate, Alan Pogue, a $200 campaign contribution. Forgetful or dishonest is no recommendation for managing state billions.

House Speaker Davy Carter admitted that it was his special interest bill to allow limited shipments of wine from out-of-state wineries direct to Arkansas customers — and give Arkansas wineries mail order business, too. He likes to visit Napa. Me, too. But I'd have revealed my self-interest on the front end — and pushed for a free market answer to Arkansas's wholesaler-driven protectionist booze-by-mail restrictions.

Republicans cheered a state party plan to set up a PAC that will financially support judicial candidates who promise to uphold party objectives. So much for an independent judiciary.

Absent any evidence of harm, Republicans also led the hysterical charge to reject Arkansas participation in a voluntary conservation program for the White River watershed.

Senate President Michael Lamoureux provided another fat political appointment to former senator Steve Faris, who, like Lamoureux, earns side income from services provided the rural telephone industry. Lamoureux pushed legislation of financial benefit to a telephone company legal customer.

Then there's GOP Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson. The nephew of the Republican Party's gubernatorial candidate is famous for more than getting conked on the head with a stuffed alligator by a former girlfriend he'd once supported with illicit payments out of his campaign fund. Reliable sources say he's had paying "legal" customers with interests in 1) the proposed constitutional amendment he sponsored to sabotage the Chamber of Commerce tort reform proposal; 2) mattress sale legislation he advocated and 3) legislation he sponsored to allow out-of-state owners to open a medical clinic in West Memphis.

Also: Remember when former legislator Mike Wilson successfully sued to end the unconstitutional practice by legislators of appropriating state surplus money — the General Improvement Fund — to pet local projects? Legislators have invented an end-around. Now, they appropriate lump sums to regional Planning and Development Districts and the state Rural Services Office. It's understood that those agencies will parcel out money to legislators' pet projects as before.

I caught Hutchinson red-handed. Benton had stopped funding a July 4 fireworks show. Hutchinson asked the regional planning agency that covers Saline County to provide $5,000 for fireworks from $1 million he'd sent the agency. Of course they did. With that money, the Saline Republican Committee, ramrodded by a Republican planning to run for county judge, and the Saline County Tea Party (that scourge of wasteful government spending) began promoting a fireworks show "sponsored" by none other than Jeremy Hutchinson, Saline Republicans and the Saline Tea Party. A radio station owned by Hutchinson also got in on the promotional act.

Hutchinson claimed later — and dishonestly — that he had little to do with the event. He said it was good for economic development. If that's so, Mike Wilson suggested to the daily newspaper, why not fireworks subsidies to EVERY county in Arkansas?

A few local Republicans, including Saline County Judge Lanny Fite, said there were greater needs for surplus money in Saline County than a fireworks show.

Do Saline voters prefer bread or circuses? They'll get a chance to demonstrate in the spring when Rep. Ann Clemmer of Bryant challenges Hutchinson. There's much more to be exploded in Hutchinson's public record and personal life than fireworks.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Fight in progress on election oversight

    Bubbling at the Capitol this week is a legislative effort — a chief instigator is Sen. Bryan King — to end the autonomy of the state Election Commission and put it in the office of Secretary of State Mark Martin. The legislation would create an investigative staff in the secretary of state's office.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • UPDATE: Grocery store wine bill passes House Rules committee

    Will grocery stores be able to sell more wine? The legislative answer might depend on whether legislation is passed to allow liquor stores to sell more food.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Huge turnout for Tom Cotton town hall

    David Koon and Brian Chilson are covering the Tom Cotton town hall in Springdale, which is just about to get underway.
    • Feb 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Stand up for Little Rock

    If Little Rock deteriorates because of substandard schools, there will be blame aplenty to share. But some elected leaders deserve special mention.
  • Arkansas voters know what they want

    With a surprisingly strong vote, 53 percent of Arkansas's voters said last Nov. 8 that they wanted to bring medical marijuana to the state.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Future is female

    • I am heartened by this needed push by women to represent us in government. It's…

    • on February 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation