The question of appearances | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 23, 2009

The question of appearances

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 12:09 PM

Arkansas Business' Mark Friedman has a detailed report on the lawsuit in which a hospital is appealing a ruling of then-state Insurance Commissioner Julie Benefield Bowman.

It's a good fit, in a way, with the Democrat-Gazette's article this morning on legislators who take special interest-funded trips -- such as the key legislators who enjoyed an outing to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the electric co-ops, who need help from these self-same legislators on a little ratemaking legislation this session.

It's already been reported that Bowman went straight from her commissioner's job to employment by an insurance company on the other side of the hospital's lawsuit. She insists there was no connection and that the job offer came after her fair decision in the case. The hospital's lawyer has dug up further information about insurance company-financed dining of its lobbyist with Bowman and of trips paid for by the insurance company.

All assure it's all on the up and up. Maybe so. I do know that things wouldn't look so slimy if 1) there was a cooling-off period before state regulators could go to work for the regulated;  2) state officials took no free meals -- particularly at the Country Club of Little Rock and other swank locales -- and trips from people they regulate and 3) it wasn't a time-honored tradition to use the office of insurance commissioner to get a much better paying job working for the insurance industry.

Simple fix. State employees pay for their own meals and travel. They don't look for jobs with people they regulated before they've even quit work for taxpayers, as Bowman clearly did. Don't hold your breath.

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