Nursing home tentacles go beyond judges | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nursing home tentacles go beyond judges

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 11:35 AM

click to enlarge ANOTHER NURSING HOME BENEFICIARY: Sen. Bruce Holland.
A sleuthing friend finds in a search of campaign finance reports that one of the seven PACs created this year with initial funding from nursing home owner Michael Morton of Fort Smith has also sent some money to a legislative candidate.

The Citizens for Judicial Reform PAC, set up by Little Rock lawyer Chris Stewart and funded initially with $3,000 from Fort Smith nursing home owner Morton has now given more than just the $1,500 to Judge Mike Maggio. (It's one of seven PACs created around the same time with Morton money and largely benefitting Maggio, during a time when he was proceeding to a decision that reduced a verdict against a Morton nursing home from $5.2 million to $1 million.)

Republican Sen. Bruce Holland of Greenwood reported in January that he received $950 from the same PAC. He also received $500 from the Taxpayers for Change PAC and $200 from the Thomas PAC. They, too, were created by Stewart, initially funded by $3,000 from Morton and were contributors to Maggio. Taxpayers for Change also made a $500 contribution to Rep. Andrea Lea, a candidate for state auditor.

The state clearly needs a searchable database to facilitate connnecting such dots. For example, if you look hard enough, you'd also find:

Holland got $6,000 from three corporate entities owned by Morton — Central Arkansas Nursing, Oak Manor Nursing and MSM Properties. (You'll see these on the reports of other judicial candidates I've mentioned before, such as rising Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood.) He also got $2,000 from Sen. Eddie Joe Williams' personal PAC. Contributors to Williams' PAC included Morton, in the amount of $5,000. (Williams' PAC gave Wood $2,000.) In December, Holland got $2,000 from Morton himself and $2,000 each from two nursing home PACs. Money came, too, from nursing home industry intimate Gilbert Baker, UCA's $132,000-a-year publicly paid lobbyist, and from Linda Flanigan of Conway, an employee of the private LRM Consulting organized by Baker. they gave $500 each. Last week, Baker was replaced as head of LRM Consulting according to a corporate filing. Maybe there just wasn't enough time in the day after work for UCA to wear all those additional hats.

So, for Holland alone, you could trace more than $13,000 in money back to Michael Morton. He's facing state Rep. Terry Rice in the Republican primary.


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