Sen. Paul Bookout (D-Jonesboro), who’s been a funeral director, is going to work for St. Bernards Healthcare in Jonesboro as administrative director for system relations and government/public affairs at St. Bernards.
Government/public affairs? That’s usually what they call a lobbyist. Arkansas law and Senate rule prohibit a sitting senator from being a lobbyist. And Bookout is Senate president pro tempore. He’s also an ethics champion. He was a sponsor of legislation to prohibit legislators from becoming a lobbyist for one year after leaving office (well only those elected in 2012 and after).
Here’s the news release. It says, in part:
The long-time Jonesboro resident, who represents District 14 in the Arkansas Senate, will be responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with key corporate stakeholders, representing St. Bernards on community boards and civic groups. He will assist with strategic planning and development of public policy and advocacy as it relates to healthcare. And he will take the lead in collaborating with healthcare systems and other entities to advocate positions on a variety of healthcare issues.
UPDATE: Bookout says he’ll leave his advocate’s hat in the car when he walks into the Capitol for the 2012 session. He says the job isn’t a lobbying job and won’t develop into one. He observed, however, that it’s a rare person for whom situations don’t arise where legislative issues are intertwined with their other jobs. “Legislators have to make a living, too,” he said. But he said he’d be working with the medical center foundation, raising money, monitoring Medicare and other issues and working on community development. He said he wouldn’t have accepted the job if it was viewed as lobbying and he said he thought his record demonstrated his belief in “performing public service in an honorable way.”