by Max Brantley
The Lord's Ranch -- provider of jet service to the governor and an $8.5 million-a-year state Medicaid contractor of residential treatment for youth -- is up for questioning at a legislative hearing at 1 p.m. today. Previous efforts to questions this group have been resisted by many legislators.
No wonder. As my new column this week shows, the Lord's Ranch has spent a huge sum (more than $43,000 in the two months preceding the spending decisions of the 2005 legislative session) to win friends at the Capitol. (Ron Fuller, the governor's former finance man, was lobbyist for Lord's Ranch.) Are there enough friends under the dome to prevent probing questions about whether the state is subsidizing the Lord's Ranch private jet? To ask why cheaper community-based treatment (which includes family therapy) might not be a better option? Why expensive residential treatment is used far more often in Arkansas than in other states? Whether the government has gotten into funding religious programs? We shall see.