News » The Week That Was

Files pleads guilty to federal charges

Also, a former Arkansan political candidate on women's rights and race and the LRPD.


Quote of the week

"I want to come home to a home-cooked dinner at six every night, one that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives — think Norman Rockwell here and Gloria Steinem be damned. ... I want daughters to have their own intelligence, their own dignity, their own workspace and their own degrees; I want them to build home-based enterprises and live in homes shared with good husbands and I don't want them to grow up into career-obsessed banshees who forego home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she-devils who shriek from the tops of a thousand tall buildings they think they could have leaped over in a single bound — had men not [been] 'suppressing them.' " Arkansas native Courtland Sykes, a former staffer for Republican 4th District Rep. Bruce Westerman and a candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Sykes' statement was in response to the question, "Do you favor Women's Rights?" and was posted on his Facebook page.


Files pleads guilty to federal charges

State Sen. Jake Files, 45, a Fort Smith Republican, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering, and resigned his Senate seat Monday. Files' plea related to misuse of General Improvement Fund money appropriated by the legislature and pledging a forklift he did not own as collateral for a $56,700 bank loan. Court documents say Files misspent state GIF money designated for a sports complex at Fort Smith that his construction company was supposed to build but never completed. He admitted falsifying bids for a water line on that project that was awarded to an employee. The employee said she gave Files the money and he used it to pay workers of his construction company as well as keeping some for himself.

Criminal charges had been expected. Files' financial troubles were well known. They surfaced when he got a loan from a lobbyist, Bruce Hawkins, to help pay bills. The troubled sports project, multiple liens and the loss of his house to foreclosure have been among the Files-related headlines in recent months. Files, a senator since 2011, had announced he wouldn't seek re-election this year. He'll be sentenced after completion of a probation office report. But the fiscal session of the legislature is soon to begin, and his departure is a loss of a vote in support of the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare that the governor has dubbed Arkansas Works. Each year, the fight to continue the program has had some drama because of a group of hard-core Republicans that opposes any spending on the program. The reauthorization of the program requires a supermajority approval of 75 percent in both houses of the legislature.

Another LRPD recruit fired for using a racial slur

A third Little Rock Police Department recruit has been fired for having a social media page with a post in which a racial slur appeared. The latest, a black recruit, Katrina Jones, 25, was fired because — after all LRPD officers were instructed to clean up social media posts — she apparently overlooked the use of an offensive word in a post done when she was 16 years old.

The first to be fired was a white recruit, Brandon Schiefelbein, who was fired for having a photo on his page of a sleeping military friend who was black with a line from black comedian Kevin Hart, "Go night, night nigga." He said his friend took no offense. He apologized to a black recruit who was offended. The post was removed.

The second, Brandon Gurley, was a black recruit who complained about the white recruit's Facebook post. But he, too, had used the word in a Facebook post, and he was fired.

Spring game coming to LR

It's not the real thing, but the Razorbacks are adding a football game in Little Rock in 2018 in addition to the one Southeastern Conference game promised at War Memorial Stadium in the fall. The Razorbacks will play their spring game in Little Rock at 1 p.m. April 7. Admission will be free and some other activities will be announced. A Northwest Arkansas "family friendly" spring event will be announced later by the Fayetteville-based Hogs. Hunter Yurachek, the new athletic director, said in a statement: "One thing that has become abundantly clear to Coach Morris and me is the importance of the Razorbacks throughout the state. From every corner and region, people are calling the Hogs. To better connect our new staff and program across the state this spring, Coach [Chad] Morris and I have decided that we will be taking the spring game to War Memorial Stadium ... ."

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