Quote of the week
"Put yourself in our shoes. You have 50 people calling you. You're trying to decide, 'Do I give an equal amount to everybody that asks? What would be best for my district?' All these organizations are doing good stuff. It's not like the KKK of Arkansas, where you really shouldn't have given money." — Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers), defending in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article the disbursement of state surplus money. The Oct. 1 article reported that former Sen. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) and Rep. Micah Neal (R-Springdale) — both under indictment for a separate misuse of state money — and Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) and Della Rosa authorized $40,000 funneled through the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District for Saline County insurance agent Charles Snider's Arkansas Health and Economic Research Inc., which billed itself as promoting dubious alternative health practices, including "ozone therapy." Della Rosa told the Democrat-Gazette she didn't remember sponsoring a $2,500 grant to Arkansas Health and Economic Research in November 2015. (Blogger Russ Racop reported the disbursement and the Arkansas Blog followed up on it in January.)
Hiland confirmed as U.S. attorney
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Cody Hiland of Conway to be U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. No objections had been raised during a speedy approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Patrick Harris, a career prosecutor, has been serving as interim U.S. attorney since the previous political appointee, Chris Thyer, stepped down. Thyer, a former Democratic legislator, was appointed by President Obama; new administrations customarily put their own people in place. Hiland was a prosecuting attorney in Faulkner County. That position is nonpartisan, but Hiland is a Republican and made an unsuccessful race for the state Court of Appeals last year.
The Eastern District is based in Little Rock and covers 41 counties. Dak Kees, director of global ethics governance at Walmart, has been nominated by President Trump to be the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, but has not yet been confirmed.
Arkansas man wrongly linked to Las Vegas shooting
A Bella Vista man who was once married to a woman identified as a companion of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock received death threats after social media posts wrongly linked him to the Sunday shootings.
Geary Danley of Bella Vista and Marilou Danley were wed in Las Vegas in 1990 and divorced in Nevada in 2014 after separating in 2013. She had worked as a casino hostess. Geary Danley and family members told KHBS, Channel 40/29, that Marilou Danley, identified as a live-in companion of Paddock, had never lived in Arkansas, despite some website directories that indicated she had.
Marilou Danley was in Tokyo Monday and has not been identified as having a role in the shooting, various news accounts have said. Prompted by an early request by police for information, people doing internet research found she had been married to Geary Danley and erroneously concluded he was involved in the shooting.
Danley, joined by his children, made a statement outside his home in Bella Vista that he didn't know Paddock or anything about his relationship with Danley's former wife.
Court blocks disclosure of execution drug info
The Arkansas Supreme Court again blocked a lower court order in a Freedom of Information Act case seeking product labels for drugs used by the state to put people to death.
It was the second time the state Supreme Court has stayed Circuit Court rulings that the labels of the killing drugs — potassium chloride and subsequently midazolam — should be released under state FOI laws. Little Rock lawyer Steve Shults filed both FOI cases in Pulaski Circuit Court; the stay allows the labels to be kept secret while the state appeals the rulings. Without the stay, the state would have had to turn over product information inserted in drug packets by last Thursday.
The stays, it's safe to say, provide some suggestion of the leanings on the court on the ultimate issue. Different judges have found that the legislature — in attempting to put a shroud of secrecy over executions — failed to enact specific language about drug labels. The state has argued that the labels can be used to identify those who provided the drugs, and that such publicity can make it hard to obtain the lethal drugs.
An execution is scheduled in November. New supplies of drugs were needed to resume executions because previous supplies had expired.
The Supreme Court's ruling came in a brief unsigned order. It said Chief Justice John Dan Kemp would have denied Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's request for a stay of the lower court order.