The open line and news video. Also: Mayflower oil spill action; Fort Smith adds jobs; lawsuit settled; death in family | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The open line and news video. Also: Mayflower oil spill action; Fort Smith adds jobs; lawsuit settled; death in family

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Here's today's open line and video news roundup. Also:

* MAYFLOWER OIL SPILL: Despite earlier objections from Central Arkansas, the Justice Department has asked a federal court to approve a consent decree with Exxon Mobil over the oil pipeline break that flooded a Mayflower subdivision with heavy Canadian tar sands oil. Exxon would pay $5 million, a pittance to a company that reports billions in annual sales.

* MOVING FROM MULDROW: Furniture Factory Outlet is moving its headquarters about 12 miles from Muldrow, Okla., to Fort Smith to take part of the space in the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility. The furniture chain has about 64 jobs in its HQ, says The City Wire, but those jobs are already counted in Fort Smith stats because Muldrow is in the Fort Smith metropolitian area.

* DEATH IN THE FAMILY: Several have asked that I mention more prominently news discussed in last night's open line about a death in the Arkansas Blog family. Our prolific and informed friend and frequent commenter, Outlier, has died. She was Nancy Kay Darling Graham of Berryville. She died June 30 at 72. You may find her obituary notice here.

* FUND-RAISING LAWSUIT SETTLED: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office announced today the settlement of a lawsuit alleging a Conway company participated in a fund-raising campaign that mostly profited a publishing company rather than benefitting emergnecy responders. Some $121,000 in contributions will be refunded. The news release:

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has reached a settlement with Conway-based USA Publishing and its owners, William and Kathleen Parker, to resolve allegations that the organization solicited funds from Arkansas donors on behalf of New Jersey-based National Police Defense Foundation. Arkansans were told these contributions would benefit the State’s emergency responders.

In the consent decree filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court today, the organization will pay $121,000 to the State to be distributed as reimbursement to Arkansas donors. USA Publishing will also pay another $50,000 in civil penalties to the State. The owners have agreed to cease all operations and will end all professional fundraising activities in Arkansas.

“It is troubling to think that an Arkansas-based company assisted an out-of-state charity with ripping off Arkansas donors, but that is exactly what USA Publishing did,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans were tricked into thinking that their donations were going to benefit local law enforcement and emergency responders. Con artists like this have no place in Arkansas, and the Attorney General’s Office will continue to protect consumers.”

In July 2013, the Attorney General’s Office sued National Police Defense Foundation and USA Publishing. The lawsuit alleged that National Police Defense Foundation contributed only $500 of the $231,004 it raised in the State to charitable purposes. The bulk of the money went to USA Publishing.

A settlement was reached with the National Police Defense Foundation in July 2014. The foundation agreed to pay $120,000 in restitution to consumers and to permanently stop all professional fundraising activities in Arkansas.

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