Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nate Bell's wife now full-time lobbyist for governor UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 1:14 PM

PHYLLIS BELL: On governor's team. - FACEBOOK
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  • PHYLLIS BELL: On governor's team.
Phyllis Bell, Republican state Rep. Nate Bell's wife, has a full-time job as legislative liaison for Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The pay is $50,000 a year.

Liaisons communicate  between the governor's office and legislators. They are essentially lobbyists.

This is updated from my original post, when I thought Bell might be a temporary liaison for the session. t I've written before about some other legislative liaisons — they included former Sen. Tracy Steele before he got a state agency director's job.  They were making $200 to $250 a day.

Bell lost a race in 2014 for Polk County assessor. Rep. Bell turned up at the top of the pay list the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette compiles every year on cumulative pay and expenses for legislators — at almost $63,000. He's said he won't seek re-election in 2016 because time away cuts into his income in raising chickens and other enterprises.

Many rumors have circulated, however, about Rep. Bell's reported interest in appointment by Hutchinson to a state job. The fact that his wife is now working here full-time lends some credence to the idea, seems to me. I"d ask Rep. Bell, but as you read yesterday, he says he'll file a harassment charge if an Arkansas Times reporter calls him again.

UPDATE: A reader noted last night:

21-1-402. Restrictions on other employment.
(b) No person whose spouse is elected to a constitutional office may, after the spouse is elected to the constitutional office and during the term for which the spouse is elected, enter into employment with any state agency without the prior approval of the Joint Budget Committee during a legislative session, the Legislative Council between legislative sessions, and the Governor.

21-1-401. Definitions.
(1) "Constitutional officer" means Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer of State, Attorney General, Commissioner of State Lands, Auditor of State, member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, and member of the Arkansas Senate;

The governor's office said Joint Budget approval was obtained for the hire.

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