Give til it helps 

Give til it helps

We happened to learn last week of an interesting perk of public office for some: The Wal-Mart Foundation lets certain politicians pick a charity to receive its largesse. Think that might make friends for the company, while providing a political benefit for the person directing the gift? We do.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, to name two, have been given the opportunity to direct $10,000 from the foundation to a non-profit of their choice. McDaniel presented the check to the Women's Crisis Center in Jonesboro and Halter to the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas. (Halter was approached by Wal-Mart in 2007 as well, and the beneficiary was the Arkansas Foodbank.)

Wal-Mart lobbyist and public affairs manager Laurie Smalling was asked to provide a list of other politicians the foundation has asked to choose a charity, but the Times hadn't heard back by press time.

Halter said Wal-Mart didn't gain political advantage by asking him who he'd like to see $10,000 go to. “I don't have any regulatory authority over Wal-Mart,” he said. He said involving well-known people in the grant-making is a way to draw attention to a worthy non-profit, and likened it to his appearance at fund-raising roasts.

McDaniel's comment was much the same. He emphasized he received no benefit from the money — unless you count the hometown press coverage of his appearance at the check presentation. Also, as our Smart Talk this week notes, that's where McDaniel met his future bride.


Fund for Nigel Haskett

For the many readers who have asked: There is a way for you to help Nigel Haskett. Contributions can be sent to Nigel Haskett Appreciation Fund, Twin City Bank, P.O. Box 16270, Little Rock, AR 72231. Those who live in the Little Rock area can make a contribution at any Twin City branch also. Haskett is the young man who interceded to stop another man from beating a woman at the McDonald's restaurant where Haskett worked. He was shot for his efforts, and his claim for worker's compensation benefits has been denied by McDonald's. According to his lawyer, Philip M. Wilson, he has undergone three surgeries, and his medical bills exceed $300,000. 

The Times article on Haskett's plight has been picked up by local and national news outlets since it appeared.

Looking at Lincoln

For the record: The talk on Republican opposition for U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln so far centers on Central Arkansas. Little Rock banker French Hill has talked to Republican campaign officials in Washington about the race. Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway has said he's been encouraged by Republicans to consider a race. And finally, Little Rock lawyer Tim Griffin, who briefly served as U.S. attorney in Little Rock, has said he's considering the race.



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