by Max Brantley
The Center for Public Integrity released today a study on integrity of states' political processes — access to information, conflict of interest rules, curbs on lobbyists. Arkansas scored an abysmal D+.
Here's the Arkansas story in detail, written by long-time Arkansas journalist James Jefferson. Anecdotal lede: State insurance regulator moving into an insurance lobbying job. (Not for the first time.) Nor is insurance the only swinging door in state government. PSC commissioners have gone from regulator to regulated, too.
A new law on legislators will, in time, institute a one-year cooling-off period to convert to paid lobbyist. But it doesn't apply to the current term-limited crop. Prediction again: Sen. Gilbert Baker, suddenly every Capitol reporter's quote machine on the shortcomings of the Arkansas Supreme Court, will have paid work before long leading a corporate-funded effort to emulate Texas and elect only appellate judges who understand that plaintiffs aren't supposed to win tort cases.
Don't forget. If all goes well, you'll be able to sign petitions from Regnat Populus 2012 and then vote for an initiative to curb corporate influence in government. Let's do something about that D.
PS — No state does really well. No A grades. Arkansas, with a D+, still managed to place 27th.