I.C. Smith, agent in charge of the Little Rock office of the FBI from 1995 to 1998, is now an author. His book, “Inside: A top G-man exposes spies, lies and bureaucratic bungling inside the FBI,” relies heavily on Arkansas for lowdown. The dirt:
Bill Clinton was an unprincipled pol with a fast zipper; Ken Starr was a good man but poor prosecutor; local prosecutors such as former U.S. Attorney Paula Casey sometimes threw up obstacles to Smith’s efforts to pursue official corruption in Arkansas, including alleged foot-dragging by her staff on the ultimately fruitful investigation of state Rep. Lloyd George. Hardly anyone comes in for a good word, including former top FBI man Lee Colwell, about whom Smith intimates darkly in recounting the Criminal Justice Institute that Colwell established at the UA with the involvement of such characters as Neal Turner, the former aide to Jim Guy Tucker who turned federal witness on another matter to avoid prosecution, and Nick Wilson, the felonious former senator.
Smith tells for the first time of his retirement from the FBI. It was not forced, he says, but he acknowledges it came at a time when he was being questioned in an internal probe over whether one of his agents had leaked word of an investigation to another federal agency. Among other things that might be called revelations, Smith claims Whitewater prosecutors came within a single juror’s vote of convicting Perryville bankers Herby Branscum and Rob Hill. The lost prosecutions halted the investigation’s momentum. Smith would have retried them speedily instead of dropping charges and he also would have indicted Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey in the first place over the bank’s handling of campaign money.
Lots of anonymous second-hand accounts of Clinton’s sex life. That tends to be a good formula for national book sales. Smith lives in retirement in Virginia.
Drug reformers at work
Having failed — but not by a lot — to get enough signatures to put a proposal to legalize medical marijuana on the general election ballot, proponents are once again considering legislation, another route they’ve tried before, unsuccessfully. Whether or not a bill is introduced will depend a great deal on finding the right legislative sponsors, according to Denele Campbell, executive director of the Drug Policy Education Group in Fayetteville. Members of the group feel that previous bills have suffered from ineffective sponsorship. The chances of a bill passing, either in the 2005 session or later, should improve greatly if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of medical marijuana in a case now before the court, Campbell said. “The federal prohibition seems to be a big obstacle for many legislators,” she said.
Making it big
Ashlie Atkinson, the Little Rock native and former Arkansas Times intern who’s breaking into acting in New York, has landed another choice role, one for which she’s had some experience.
Atkinson, who plays the zaftig girlfriend of a buff New York firefighter in a recurring role in the hit FX series “Rescue Me,” is again playing the role of the hefty girlfriend of a good-looking guy. This time it’s in “Fat Pig,” a Neil LaBute play in previews in New York. Ashlie is the female lead opposite a little guy, Jeremy Piven, who is mocked by his friends over his choice of girlfriends.
Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.