It was a good week for ...
A CHANGE IN RHETORIC. In 2012, Rep. Tim Griffin introduced a bill to freeze new regulations on federal agencies because he said they cost the economy. On Monday, he said federal regulations weren't strong enough to stop the ExxonMobil pipeline leak.
DOUBLE STANDARDS. Lt. Gov. Mark Darr spent campaign money for meals, clothing, travel — personal expenses. But he called the spending a payback from loans he made to his campaign. Yet he raised $12,000 more than he loaned himself. An ethics complaint has been filed against Darr (he's also filed one against himself), but it's unlikely he'll face the same consequences as Sen. Paul Bookout (see below).
It was a bad week for ...
SEN. PAUL BOOKOUT. The Jonesboro legislator, who last week resigned from his job in administration at St. Bernards Healthcare in Jonesboro after the state Ethics Commission found he'd spent campaign contributions on personal items, resigned from the state Senate. A special prosecutor has been named to determine whether criminal charges should be brought.
The UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS ADMINISTRATION. Vice Chancellor Chris Wyrick fired the university's top spokesman, John Diamond, because, according to Diamond, he'd complained the administration wasn't fully responsive to the public in disclosing its activities under the Freedom of Information Act. Wyrick said it was Diamond's insubordination that got him fired. Chancellor David Gearhart said Diamond, hired by Brad Choate, himself terminated, could not get along with Wyrick. Here's the known fact: Diamond will continue to pull down his $173,000 pay until Sept. 22.
The UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT. An FOIA on another matter turned up the news that the U of A sells coveted priority seats to Razorback football games to public officials without requiring they pay the $3,000 customarily donated to the Razorback Foundation for the seats. Gov. Mike Beebe, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and former Secretary of State Charlie Daniels have taken advantage of the UA policy that sets public officials above average Joes. The state Ethics Commission has ruled in the past that's not a gift. Huh?