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Smart Talk, Feb. 4. 

Boozman's O'Keefe problem

Rep. John Boozman
, who's mulling over a U.S. Senate run against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, co-sponsored a bill (H.Res. 809) last year to honor “the fact-finding reporting done by Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe III in their investigation in the fraudulent and illegal practices and misuse of taxpayer dollars by the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN).”

You might remember, O'Keefe was arrested Monday in New Orleans and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intention of committing a felony (a.k.a. tampering with Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones). Some Republicans are running away from O'Keefe. What does Boozman say? Here's an equivocating response from communication director Sara Lasure.

“The resolution co-sponsored by Congressman Boozman recognizes fact-finding efforts in an investigation into ACORN's illegal practices and abuse of taxpayer dollars. These actions were worthy of this recognition. The resolution was offered months in advance of allegations of illegal conduct. The congressman certainly doesn't condone illegal activity but he is very proud of the work highlighting the irresponsible illegal activity of ACORN which deserve to be investigated by an independent prosecutor.”

The real question is how can the congressman be so sure their earlier work was so estimable and their tactics fair and honestly described, given the sleazy business they were caught red-handed in this week? Is it only because he liked the outcome and was willing to overlook other niceties?

Hungry

Another sign of the times: A Gallup poll puts Arkansas as second in the nation for “food hardship,” with 24 percent of respondents reporting that there had been times in 2009 when they'd been too poor to buy the food their family needed.
Mississippi was first. Virginia was the only Southern state not in the top 15.

The Fourth Congressional District had a 27.9 percent rate of food hardship, the highest of the state's districts and 19th nationally among congressional districts. The greater Little Rock area, with one in five reporting food hardship, had the lowest rate in the state. The First District's rate was 22.5 percent, the Third District's 21.3 percent.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was analyzed by the Food Research and Action Center, which released the results last week.

We're well-informed

“Lincoln Receives 2009 Wheat Advocate Award”

“Lincoln: Now is not the Time to Destabilize Our Economy”

“Blanche Works to secure grants that create green job training”

If you're a newspaper reporter, you don't go hungry for information about Blanche Lincoln these days. Indeed, you're practically covered up by news releases like the three that accompanied the headlines above. There's so much news about Senator Lincoln being disseminated that it takes three press offices to do it.

Like the other 99 U.S. senators, Lincoln has a taxpayer-supported communications division within her Washington Senate office. It consists now of press secretary Marni Goldberg, speechwriter Leah Vest DiPietro and press assistant Scott Allen. The news release about the importance of a stable economy came from the Senate office.

Because this is an election year, Lincoln also has a campaign office in Little Rock with its own communications arm. Katie Laning Niebaum, communications director and spokesperson, left the Senate office to work in the campaign — which is privately funded, of course. “Green job training” is a campaign office release.

And when Lincoln became chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in September, she added more media help. Liz Friedlander is the Committee press secretary, Courtney Rowe the communications director. Essentially, they work for Lincoln. The wheat release is theirs. Like the Senate office people, Friedlander and Rowe are public employees.

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