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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Paul Rawlings: WHEN ARKANSAS REPUBLICANS ARE IN CHARGE

  • Republican members of the Arkansas legislature apparently believe they acted in a conservative Christian manner when they doled out millions of taxpayer dollars in corporate welfare to big steel and big oil companies while opposing Medicare benefits for the Arkansas poor.
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  • The Republican controlled 2014 session of the Arkansas Legislature lasted 38 days—13 days longer than either the 2010 or 2012 sessions and INCREASED revenue spending  $109 million for the fiscal year beginning July 2014.
     
    For the first time since Amendment 82 was adopted in 2004 the Republican controlled 2014 legislature approved a $125 million bond issue and a corporate welfare package of tax breaks, grants and loans worth $325 million to help the billionaire Koch brothers Big River Steel to build a steel mill in Mississippi County where there are two other steel mills.
     
    The Republican controlled legislature granted big oil companies sales-tax exemptions, valued at $5.1 million per year, on sand used in their oil/gas drilling operations.
     
    Republican Mark Darr, the Lieutenant Governor, on August 23, 2013 filed a complaint against himself with The Arkansas State Ethics Commission admitting there were problems with his election finance reports. 
     
    After investigating the complaints against Darr The Arkansas Ethics Commission on December 19, 2013 found Darr guilty of 11 violations of ethics and campaign finance laws and fined him $11,000.  which fine Darr agreed to pay.
     
    On January 7, 2014 Darr said his activities were an “oversight”  he “erred” but such activities were “not worthy of my removal from office” and he would not resign. Twelve days later on January 19, 2014 Darr announced his resignation effective February 1, 2014  and issued this statement  “I made mistakes but not one with malicious intent.”
     
    Republican Mark Martin, the Arkansas Secretary of State, budget for 2012 was  $26,507,761.00  compared to the $15.7 million spent by Democrat Charlie Daniel the previous fiscal year.  Martin lists a staff of 123 members showing Martha Adcock and Tiffany Minyard as his legal staff.
    By law the Attorney General of Arkansas represents the Secretary of State and since 1905 every Secretary of State has used the Attorney General to handle all legal matters.
    With taxpayer paying the salary of two lawyers on his staff and the taxpayers paying the Attorney General to represent him Martin hired the following lawyers and paid them the amounts indicated:
                        Chisenhall, Nestrud & Julian , PA $68,364.30
                        Patrick L. Hays LLC $13,290.93
                        The Asa Hutchinson Law Group PLC  $12,742.40
                        John Willems $3,300.00
    Page 2 of 3 -                     Richard L. Hughes $1,822.50
                         Debbie L. Petrie  $1,477.14
                        Dover, Dixon, Home PLLC $1,245.00
                        L. Jones Law Firm PLC $750.00
                        Allison R. Gladden $750.00
     
    Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox on August 12, 2013 ruled that Marin violated state law when he hired outside counsel instead of using the attorneys on his staff or using the Arkansas attorney general’s office.  I am unable to find any further action taken on the ruling of Judge Fox.
     
    On February 7, 2012 Republican District 9 State Senator Bruce “fireball” Holland pled guilty to trying to outrun a deputy sheriff in a chase across two counties involving speeds of 110 miles an hour.  Holland apologized paid a fine of $890.00 and was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.
     
    State Republican representative John Hutchinson from Harrisburg on August 23, 2013 paid a $150.00 fine levied by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for breaking the law when he used campaign funds during his 2012 election for personal expenses.
     
    State Capitol security video captured Republican House Speaker Davy Carter and fellow Republican legislators John Burris, Duncan Baird and Micah Neal escorting former lobbyist Katherine Vasilos and her lady friend on a tour of the state capitol between 1:40 am and 3am on October 18. 2013.
     
    Cleburne County’s District 66 Republican Representative, Josh Miller, was involved in a catastrophic car accident 11 years ago which left him paralyzed and with roughly $1 million in medical bills.  Miller was placed on disability, Medicare and Medicaid  paid his medical bills and continue to fund HIS private personal care on a DAILY BASIS. Although Miller has received more than $1 million in Medicare and Medicaid benefits he opposed and voted against providing one penny of Medicaid benefits to 250,000 Arkansas citizens under the Affordable Care Act in Arkansas.
     
    During the Arkansas 2010 general election Republican candidates from the state house to the dog house spent millions of dollars bashing Obama, Pelosi, Reed although those names were not on any ballot and campaigned as Christians with conservative values.
     
    Darr, Martin. Holland, Carter, Burris, Baird, Neal and Miller’s apparently believe they conducted themselves as Christian conservatives.
    Page 3 of 3 -  
    Republican members of the Arkansas legislature apparently believe they acted in a conservative Christian manner when they doled out millions of taxpayer dollars in corporate welfare to big steel and big oil companies while opposing Medicare benefits for the Arkansas poor.
     
    Your vote in the next election should reflect your evaluation of the Arkansas Republican’s performance individually and collectively after they were in control for the first time in 138 years?
     
    (Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes his “progressive” viewpoint each week to the The Sun-Times.  He writes a blog at www.pauls-musings.blogspot.com)
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