CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE: It operated here for years, with help from lawmakers, lobbyists and others.
Here's the Sunday open line. And for those of you who haven't read enough about the extent of corruption in the Arkansas legislature here's some more detail from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
enabled by recent federal charges against crooked lawmakers.
You know about the millions pumped into the General Improvement Fund as an unconstitutional end-around legislative spending on local projects. It wasn't always simply unconstitutional. It was also felonious when people like Jon Woods, Micah Neal and
Hank Wilkins arranged kickbacks from money they controlled.
This article sheds more welcome attention on similar abuse of a state Drug Abuse and Prevention Fund. Noble purpose to grant money to agencies that work in this area, particularly with youth. Less noble when you learn legislators could "earmark" money put in the fund for their favored recipients. And, wouldn't you know it? Some of them got kickbacks for their service.
Again: Why does a company that benefitted from this ill-gotten loot still receive millions in state Medicaid money? They should have been cut off, no matter who they fired after the dirt hit the fan, and cleaner hands found.
A former executive in that company, Rusty Cranford,
(who also wore a lobbyist hat) is expected to plead guilty in the public corruption investigation this week in Springfield. The hope is that he's prepared to squeal on still more legislators and others who were in on the massive criminal enterprise that operated out of the Arkansas State Capitol.
PS: And this doesn't touch on former Sen. Jake Files,
also headed to jail for pilfering GIF money and under investigation too for money he received from a nursing home executive he was helping in the legislative halls. Or former Rep. Eddie Cooper,
who left the legislature to work crookedly for the healthcare company in passing out money to friendly legislators in campaign contributions and other ways.
Or the numerous unindicted legislators who managed to cadge fees of various sorts from businesses with an interest in legislation on which those legislators worked.
I used to oppose term limits. I'm feeling differently now about what a total fumigation might produce through forced ousters. Perhaps a new class of crooks would emerge, but at least they'd have to spend a few years on the job to perfect corrupt practices to the extent some of these crooks did.