The Associated Press’s Claudia Lauer, who’s also dogging reports of an expanded federal corruption probe, coincidentally breaks a nice story today.
It is that the Arkansas Faith and Freedom Coalition has filed tax documents that show it paid $120,000 in consulting fees to then-Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux’ one-man law firm in 2013.
Lamoureux is now Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff. He wouldn’t comment for the article,
Permit me to provide some background reported here before about this outfit, which the AP declined to ballyhoo at the time because I am not a member of that organization.
I’ve delved into the Faith and Freedom Coalition before. Who led the Arkansas branch of that outfit when it was founded in 2010? None other than former Sen. Gilbert Baker, now a lobbyist who is hipdeep in the Maggio investigation as the conduit of campaign contributions from a nursing home owner, Michael Morton, to Maggio and other judicial candiates.
As I reported earlier, Baker was paid regularly by the group, including receiving $59,000 from them in 2011 when he was a leader of the Arkansas Senate. On the board of the organization then and now is Little Rock lawyer Chris Stewart, who assisted in the establishment of the multiple PACs designed to funnel money to Maggio.
The group paid $59,000 to Baker the next year, 2012. It spent $288,000 on Baker and to elect Republicans to the Arkansas legislature. It’s an offshoot of the group founded by Religious Right politico Ralph Reed. Bruce Campbell, a longtime Republican insider who currently works in the Hutchinson administration, and Donnie Copeland, a current state representative, also have been officers of the Arkansas group.
I saw Lamoureux at lunch Monday. He didn’t seem his usual jovial self.
PS: The Faith and Freedom Coalition tried to help John Burris succeed Johnny Key in his Senate seat with mailers. Didn’t work. See their mailer below.
PPS: Lamoureux didn’t specifically report the money from the coalition on his statement of financial interest. Lawyers need not specifically disclose clients. There are other “consultants” in the legislature who also don’t disclose clients. Sen. Jon Woods, architect of the laughingly misnamed ethics amendment is a “consultant.” Of what, he doesn’t say. It is, it goes without saying, a way to hide dubious sources of income. Perhaps it’s all legit. The public just doesn’t know.
But another pat on our back: I did report on one piece of legal business done by Lamoureux while he was in the Senate. He pushed hard for a bill that produced a windfall for rural telephone companies. He was working at the time for rural telephone companies, including P.T. Sanders’ Arkwest phone company in Danville.
And more. The fuller version of Lauer’s story contains more interesting details about sources of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s money in Arkansas. Contributors include tobacco companies that Baker represents as a lobbyist; lobbying firm Mullenix and Associates; Bruce Hawkins‘ lobbying firm and Michael Morton, the Fort Smith nursing home owner whose nursing home figured in the case that produced Maggio’s guilty plea.
Have you noticed how often these names come up these days? Just these last couple of days, we’ve talked on the blog about Hawkins’ multiple PACs and his loan to a legislator, Jake Files; Mullenix and Baker and Hawkins throwing dinners for legislators at out-of-town conferences; these old associations with a shadowy dark money group Messy stuff.