Watching the money flow in kickback scheme using Arkansas surplus | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Watching the money flow in kickback scheme using Arkansas surplus

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 12:07 PM

As a service to the Arkansas lobbying industry, I'll save them a few dollars and post the information filed yesterday in federal court in Springdale containing the basis for former state Rep. Eddie Cooper's guilty plea of to participating in a scheme to illegally tap money paid to a giant health care nonprofit for lobbying expenses and kickbacks.

The long and short is that a nonprofit incorporated in Missouri took in more than $900 MILLION from 2008 to 2016 (yes, nearly a billion) in federal and state money to provide various mental health and medical services in four states including Arkansas. Officials of that company then schemed to dole out hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions prohibited by federal tax law, in lobbying expenses prohibited by federal tax law and in kickbacks to legislators such as Cooper. The information noted that campaign contributions often were handed out personally to politicians, to be sure the source imprinted on them.

All has NOT been revealed. Though it's easy enough to trace the unnamed co-conspirators to jobs they held, some references to how they enlisted other legislators and lobbyists in work on Medicaid-related legislation at least raises the suspicion that others might have received ill-gotten money, too. Cooper is the fourth legislator to be accused of profiting from General Improvement Fund money directed to nonprofits.  GIF is the state surplus slush fund ruled unconstitutional last year. He joins fomer Republican legislators, Micah Neal and Jake Files, who've pleaded guilty, and Jon Woods, who's awaiting trial.

The details include quotes from e-mails about targeting GIF money and about divvying up money diverted for lobbying.

Follow the dots, Capitol insiders, in the full federal information.

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