Arkansas Supreme Court: Nursing home money floods Tim Cullen | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Arkansas Supreme Court: Nursing home money floods Tim Cullen

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 6:49 AM

click to enlarge MICHAEL MORTON: Places big bet on Tim Cullen. - ARKANSAS BUSINESS
  • Arkansas Business
  • MICHAEL MORTON: Places big bet on Tim Cullen.
The latest campaign reports add a wrinkle to the perplexing race pitting Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne against a little-known trial lawyer, Tim Cullen. Nursing home money, particularly from the infamous Michael Morton of Fort Smith, has flooded into the Cullen race.

Of the $82,000 he reported, $40,000 came from Michael Morton, the Fort Smith nursing home magnate, and corporate entities of his vast holdings. (AGAIN: Something needs to be done about this enormous loophole in Arkansas campaign finance law that makes a mockery of the $2,000 limit placed on ordinary citizens.) Another $6,000 came from a Conway nursing home outfit.

This is the same money that flowed into the campaigns, of among others, Supreme Court candidate Rhonda  Wood, and circuit court candidates Troy Braswell, David Clark, Doralee Chandler, and particularly Mike Maggio. Maggio, once a court of appeals candidate, is now on paid leave for a variety of ethical probes, including whether a flood of smelly PAC money originating in Morton's pocket was timed to influence his decision in reducing by more than $4 million a verdict against one of his nursing homes.

Cullen has now raised $116,000, well more than Wnne's $93,000. Wynne raised only $13,000 in the latest period, including $4,000 from Walton heirs, $1,000 from John Tyson and $300 from the AFL-CIO.

You could say Morton was hedging his bet here, but not exactly. Various of his entities gave Wynne $8,000 earlier in the campaign, chump change for Morton in the tens of thousands he's salted into judicial races around the state to get the kind of justice he desires for nursing home.

Cullen, you'll recall, is being attacked by a shadowy (shady?) 501C4 group out of Virginia as friendly to child pornography for using the phrase "victimless crime" in seeking a sentence reduction for a man trapped in a sting by a cop posing as a minor and also found in possession of child pornography. The ad buy is in the $400,000 range by Cullen camp estimates. It's underhanded stuff (everyone is entitled to a defense, for one thing). The lack of transparency is another mockery of campaign finance law. But Wynne disavows connection with it and, at this point, I tend to believe him.

But what IS going on here? Wynne's unremarkable mainstream record as a small-town lawyer and middle level appellate judge offers no clue why this PAC — which generally works on the side of corporate interests — is so hellbent on defeating Cullen. Or how they even knew about him in the first place. But I've said before that the support of a group like the Law Enforcement Alliance of America has to give you some pause. May I now say relative to the mass infusion of cash from nursing home operator Michael Morton — ditto.

Here's one more tell: Mountaire Corp. gave Cullen $2,000. That's the poultry outfit owned by the wealthy Ron Cameron, a major moneybags for conservative business causes and a key contributor to the billionaire Koch brothers' political activities. Do you really want to join hands with a guy who contributed to the Sarah Palin PAC?

I'm still scratching my head about this race, as are a number of lawyers of my acquaintance who fall all along the spectrum of practice from plaintiff to defense. Some trial lawyers with decided liberal tendencies are in Wynne's camp, a factor that tends to discourage my belief that he's an expected toady for the chamber of commerce.

Alas, in this race, we are not going to know the real story until it's too late. Judges can't talk about anything meaningful in their races. You're left to read tea leaves through campaign contributions and anonymously sourced attack ads. Then you get to read the winner's opinions.

PS — Debbie Pelley, battalion commander of the Black Helicopter Squadron in Jonesboro, is distributing e-mail in support of Cullen. Dan Greenberg has written disapprovingly of ads against Cullen. Hmmm. On the other hand, Rep. Justin Harris, chair of the legislature's Crackpot Caucus, has endorsed Wynne.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • North Little Rock mayor shows downtown plaza plan

    North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith is presenting a plan to the City Council tonight for a downtown plaza meant to augment planned private developments and further enhanced downtown as a destination.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Attorney general asks for continued secrecy on execution drugs

    As expected, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked the Arknasas Supreme Court for an "emergency stay" of a lower court ruling that the Correction Department must produce labels from one of the drugs used in executions.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Groups seek end to commercial collection of wild turtles

    Several environmental organizations to end commercial turtle collection in Arkansas.The harvests (more than 126,000 turtles from 2014 to 2016) are not sustainable and that, in turn, is damaging to ecosystems, the groups said.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Speaking of the Clinton Foundation: Returns in maize and beans

    A reporter for Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization, sent a reporter to Africa to see where money given to the Clinton Foundation has been put to work. He found tangible results.
    • Sep 6, 2016
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation