Tougher ethics law produces results in Alabama; Arkansas moves backwards on ethics | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Tougher ethics law produces results in Alabama; Arkansas moves backwards on ethics

Posted By on Sat, Jun 11, 2016 at 7:23 AM

click to enlarge CONSEQUENCES: This scenario in Alabama seems unlikely to happen in Arkansas, where the legislature has moved to ease, not tighten, ethics laws.
  • CONSEQUENCES: This scenario in Alabama seems unlikely to happen in Arkansas, where the legislature has moved to ease, not tighten, ethics laws.

Michael Hubbard, the speaker of the Alabama House, was convicted Friday of felony ethics charges and faces a long stint in prison.

The New York Times notes that the Republican fell victim to ethics laws passed in 2010 after Republicans took control of the legislature.

Alas, Republican control of the Arkansas legislature has only brought a loosening of an ethics amendment approved by voters, higher legislative pay and looser term limits.

But I call attention to this sentence in the Times article with particular emphasis:

Mr. Hubbard, who was convicted of improperly soliciting benefits from lobbyists and voting in favor of a measure that helped a company for which he consulted ....
In the last year or so, the Arkansas Blog has reported on a senator who got bailed out of a financial tight by a loan from a lobbyist; about a legislative leader who handled legislation that benefitted a paying customer of his legal practice; "consulting fees" paid by political interest groups to legislative leaders (including the same fellow who handled legislation for a legal client); a legislator who offered a bill that directly helped his water treatment business; a legislator who effectively deregulated the school district his wife runs (and from which she took an illegal payment for health insurance); seen a state agency director do business with an agency she regulated; saw a legislator become a "consultant" and then full-fledged lobbyist for a health businesses offered immense profit opportunities thanks to that lawmaker's legislation; seen legislative leaders scrounge money from lobbyists so they could be feted at lavish banquets to which lobbyists, but not the public, were invited. And that's just a few that come readily to mind.

There ought to be a law.

Michael Hubbard is a good illustration of why you best not hold your breath for the Arkansas legislature to get tough on ethics.

PS — Here's the bill of particulars against Hubbard who egregiously solicited money from corporate players. But the charges also included voting on legislation in which he had a conflict of interest. If this was a crime in Arkansas ... . 

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