by Max Brantley
Williams has been a trial lawyer and will take the new role Feb. 1. Banks, of course, have plenty of legislative interests. Southern Bancorp's interest might even be broader because it has, for example, been active in financing charter school expansion, including participation in Little Rock's e-Stem charter school. Expansion of charter school legislation is a major target of wealthy interests led by the Walton family, but including support from the Stephens, Murphy and Hussman clans.
Walter Smiley has been CEO since the previous CEO, Phil Baldwin, left. An article in Arkansas Business (link corrected) suggested some differences over relative emphasis on for-profit banking and the charitable endeavors supported by profits played a role in the change.