The Democrat-Gazette had a short item this morning saying that term-limited state Rep. Bill Abernathy of Mena was heading to the lobbying ranks in January. He’ll work for two-year colleges. I’d been tipped about this a week ago and sent Abernathy an e-mail inquiry. He never responded. I’d be embarrassed, too.
Is there any doubt that Abernathy, with an employment deal worked out while the legislature still meets in committee, is conflicted completely on any matter relating to two-year colleges or their funding? The legislature will be busy in coming months doing spade work for the January session. Abernathy will effectively be a lobbyist for the two-year colleges during that time, even if his compensation will be deferred.
Abernathy, you can be sure, is just the first of many. Rumors are abundant about some bigger names heading that direction. That’s one reason why it has been impossible to get a cooling-off period enacted for converting from public service to private service in the lobby.