Arkansas: The Land Ethics Forgot. Plus an open line | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Arkansas: The Land Ethics Forgot. Plus an open line

Posted By on Sat, Feb 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The Saturday night line is open.  One last thing:

click to enlarge LOBBY BOUND: Sen. Johnny Key is interested in taking the UA lobbyist job.
  • LOBBY BOUND: Sen. Johnny Key is interested in taking the UA lobbyist job.
* ANOTHER LEGISLATOR READY TO HIT THE LOBBY: Roby Brock Twittered this afternoon that Republican Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home had told him he'd applied for the job of University of Arkansas lobbyist, open because of Richard Hudson's retirement. Why not? He's served higher ed well from a quasi-lobby job in the chamber. Why shouldn't he be rewarded with a position of influence for higher education, one where he can be sure to have useful access to all his old colleagues? He did serve on the higher ed budget subcommittee after all. Made a lot of friends there.

You may recall in a burst of supposed ethics legislating in 2011 they adopted a one-year waiting period for legislators to head to the lobby. ASTERISK. Current members of the legislature were exempted from the requirement.

I'd say somebody like Key, or Gilbert Baker who headed straight from work in the Senate for higher ed to a $132,000 job at UCA, is a perfect match for the universities, which have demonstrated a fair number of blind spots to transparency and ethics themselves. Key will make a heckuva tag team with Baker bundling up campaign contributions for Republican legislative candidates. In his "off" time, of course. The UA lobbying job currently pays $202,000, BTW.

Would the Regnat Populus ballot initiative stop current legislators from becoming instant lobbyists in 2014? If so, where do I sign?

Does a pending job application amount to a conflict of interest in voting on money for the University of Arkansas? Maybe in some other land. In Arkansas, it is business as usual.

A PS: The fix HAS to be in. Key wouldn't risk announcing his application otherwise. Pretty disappointing that the Sunday Democrat-Gazette article made no mention of the law requiring a one-year deal in moving from the legislature to lobby (except for those sitting in legislature when law was passed.)

Key has done not only yeoman duty for the UA in his time in the legislature, he's done yeoman work for the agenda of the Billionaire Boys Club, led by the Walton fortune, in charter schools.  He used a special language trick to explode the cap on "virtual charter school" enrollment, a boon to a get-rich-quick scheme for Republican nabob William Bennett and others and supported by the Walton fortune. He's also pushed for construction money for charter schools. Since the Waltons control UA, it follows that the campus lobbyist should be someone they're comfortable with. Key fits that bill nicely.

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