Here’s the week-end open line, with Arkansas headlines.
* ALL IN THE FAMILY: Blue Hog Report raises questions about whether all the legal necessities were followed in the hiring of two legislators’ wives by top state officials — Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s hiring of Sen.Alan Clark’s wife Jana at $54,000 a year and Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s hiring of Rep. Nate Bell’s wife, Phyllis, as a lobbyist at $50,000 a year. Blue Hog thinks Joint Budget Committee approval was required under a 1999 anti-nepotism law that applies to state officials including legislators. Hutchinson’s office told me when Phyllis Bell was hired that the office HAD gotten Joint Budget approval, though I didn’t check the record on it. Milligan is expected to say Clark didn’t have to be approved by Joint Budget because, though she was hired at a $54,000 rate, she is working half-time at 20 hours a week and not being paid that amount overall. You still have two cases of legislative nepotism, legal or not. UPDATE: A spokesman for Milligan said Clark is indicated as “extra help” for the legislative session and thus, by the office’s interpretation not covered by the required approval law Blue Hog mentioned.