Quote of the Week:
"I would imagine I've thought more about what happened than all of you put together. I've lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been racking my brain about what more could have been done, or should have been done."
— Hillary Clinton, at last week's congressional hearing on the 2012 Benghazi attack in Libya that killed four Americans. The former U.S. Secretary of State kept her cool throughout 11 hours of mostly hostile questioning, while her antagonists appeared to be grasping at straws. Even most conservative commenters admitted afterward that the nationally televised hearings had been a PR mistake for Republicans.
Tweet of the Week:
"@ArkansasBlog Why do you think people are moving to Cabot? It's not because of highways."
— Arkansas Highways and Transportation Director Scott Bennett, responding to the Times' Max Brantley and other critics of the proposed Interstate 30 expansion, which would build four more lanes of traffic through the heart of downtown Little Rock (see column, opposite page).
Supreme Court stays executions
Last Tuesday, the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the executions of two men scheduled for the following day, along with seven other executions planned for the coming months. Don Davis and Bruce Ward, whose death sentences date to 1992 and 1990, have argued for a hearing on the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol and say they should be able to get information about the drugs to be used in the execution, which is secret under state law. The high court said that litigation (currently in Pulaski Circuit Court) must first be resolved before the state can proceed.
Last week, the Elkins Police Department filed charges against Coach Kevin Lea of Cedarville High after an altercation at an Elkins-Cedarville football game on Oct. 16. The charges against Lea — son of state Auditor Andrea Lea — include inciting a riot and endangering the welfare of a minor. Evidently, after referees broke up a fight between students towards the end of the game (which Elkins won, 16-6) Lea began screaming and cursing at the refs, and allegedly directed a racial slur toward his rival coach. When told to leave the field with his players, he refused, the police report states, and the conflict only escalated from there. Lea was suspended from Cedarville's game last Friday — and Elkins canceled a planned junior high game in Cedarville.
Same-sex marriage = marriage
Same-sex couples can now get married anywhere in the country, of course, but some Arkansas laws and regulations still have yet to catch up with the times — such as a rule in state employee policy that until recently prohibited family medical leave for same-sex spouses, explicitly. Last week, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration changed its rule to make it clear family leave is now available to all. One more small step toward equality.
Buying a legislator, by the numbers:
Last week, the Associated Press' Claudia Lauer found that Michael Lamoureux, chief of staff for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, received a handsome payment on the side during his time leading the Arkansas Senate. In 2013, while serving as Senate president pro tempore, Lamoureux's law firm was hired as a "consultant" for a conservative nonprofit called the Arkansas Faith and Freedom Coalition, which has since folded. The nonprofit received almost all of its money from a group of wealthy lobbyists and their corporate clients, tax documents indicate. Lamoureux said in a statement that his work for "F&F" included recruiting candidates, organizing volunteers and educating candidates on issues, adding that "this position in no way influenced my job as a state senator."$120,000—The amount F&F paid to Lamoureux's law firm in 2013.$14,000— TF&F's total expenditures in 2013 after paying Lamoureux's "consulting" fee.$17,800— Lamoureux's salary in the Senate, which was less than one-sixth the amount F&F paid his firm.$60,000— The amount donated to F&F in 2013 from two tobacco industry groups.$30,000— The amount donated to F&F in 2013 from DBH Management Consultants, a firm headed by Bruce Hawkins, one of the state's most prominent lobbyists.$12,500— The amount donated to F&F by Michael Morton, a Fort Smith nursing home magnate who's lobbied for restricting the amount of damages awarded in legal actions.$2,000— The maximum amount that any one lobbyist (or any individual) could give directly to a candidate per election in 2013. F&F didn't donate to Lamoureux, you see. It merely paid his law firm for consulting services.