More on the Missouri angle in public corruption probe | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, April 13, 2019

More on the Missouri angle in public corruption probe

Posted By on Sat, Apr 13, 2019 at 8:25 AM

click to enlarge pfh.jpg
We mentioned here Thursday that Missouri officials were players in the public corruption indictment naming former Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and two top former officials of Preferred Family Healthcare, the Springfield, Mo.-based nonprofit at the center of the investigation. Here's an Associated Press report from Missouri looking more closely at the Show Me State angle.

Three former Republican lawmakers — all now in other public jobs, including one who's a Public Service commissioner — confirmed to the AP that they had benefitted from campaign contributions from people associated with PFH and its predecessor. They say they didn't know the money might have come illegally from nonprofit funds. They have not been accused of being bribed in return for legislative help, as has been alleged (and in some cases admitted) in Arkansas. Still, when you lie down with dogs like lobbyist Rusty Cranford, you might find yourself itching.

There's also this in the report:

The 32-count indictment in the Western District of Missouri for conspiracy, theft of federal funds, bribery, fraud and filing false returns was unsealed this weak. It contains a reference to lobbying payments illegally taken from federal funds that went to TreecePhilips, the lobbying firm owned by Columbia Mayor Brian Treece and his wife, Mary Philips. The indictment charges the Gosses with being responsible for payments to TreecePhilips, referenced as “Lobbying Firm D,” that totaled “more than $500,000 from July 2013 until September 2017.”

Neither Treece nor Philips have been charged in the case.
As they say, the investigation is ongoing. Known recipients of PFH favors over the years in Arkansas had reason to be nervous last week, even if not mentioned by name in Hutchinson's latest indictment. It's apparent many are cooperating in the probe. Getting charged with crimes can encourage that. Winning the race to the courthouse can be beneficial. See former Rep. Micah Neal, who got home detention for pleading guilty to taking bribes, and former Sen. Jon Woods, facing 18 years in federal lockup after conviction at trial.

This nonprofit once operated in five states.

Crimes aside, the loose cash thrown off through Medicaid contracts enjoyed by this putative nonprofit was enormous.

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