Arkansas: The corruption state | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 21, 2018

Arkansas: The corruption state

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 7:09 AM

click to enlarge CONDUIT FOR ACTION
  • Conduit for Action
My published record reflects little warmth toward the ultra-right political group Conduit for Action. But .... their latest attack on Gov. Asa Hutchinson (to help his wacky primary opponent, Jan Morgan and a few favored legislative candidates) is not without worthy points.

It's titled "Asa and the Corruption State" and it chronicles in one place a list of corruption, self-dealing and general sleaze amassed in Arkansas the last few years.

Hutchinson comes in for criticism for saying and doing little meaningful about the parade of deplorables. The recitation involves, among others, his former chief of staff, Michael Lamoureux; his nephew, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, and legislators he supports against Conduit-favored candidates. These include, for example, Rep. James Sturch, opposing Sen. Linda Collins-Smith. Sturch has been supported in the legislature by pay from a political consulting firm in DeQueen run by lobbyist Chad Gallagher. They note unsuccessful efforts by another favorite, Sen. Bryan King, to force more transparency about the paid work of legislators in behalf of clients and for disclosure of ties to Medicaid recipients.

And speaking of Medicaid: Conduit notes that a  once demonstrably corrupt enterprise, Preferred Family Healthcare, remains a multi-million-dollar recipient of state Medicaid money. Yes, the leadership of the company has changed in the wake of multiple indictments. I'm sure Ted Suhl would have happily installed a new CEO when he got implicated in a Medicaid bribery scheme so that his business could continue to cash in millions from Medicaid. Instead, the state, under the Beebe administration, stopped doing business with his companies.

Conduit would like an accounting of money shipped to Ecclesia College, a favorite of Rep. Bob Ballinger, who's trying to beat Bryan King. It also notes a lack of attention to money the governor shipped to another financially troubled religious institution, Arkansas Baptist College.

The report also notes (some, but not all) of the former Republican legislators who have landed state jobs in the Hutchinson administration.

Conduit faults Hutchinson for bemoaning discretionary spending by legislators in the GIF scandal, but notes that his solution is discretionary spending by HIS office. Discretionary spending is ill whoever is solely in charge, they argue.

I'm no fan of Conduit or the candidates it backs. But that doesn't mean its bill of particulars isn't fair comment. It's worth discussing, certainly come general election time. Against Jan Morgan, Hutchinson still can't help but look good.  God help the sick and poor of Arkansas if Morgan and her ilk were to be elected.

click to enlarge CONDUIT'S CALL FOR ACTION

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