Linda Satter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette dug into court filings in the Ted Suhl bribery case today as we’d done last week in noting Suhl’s use of a new Supreme Court decision to make a case that money he’d passed out to public officials wasn’t bribery, but merely political payments for access. Just like a campaign contribution.
Suhl is accused of, among others, paying Steven Jones, a former legislator and state DHS official, for help in his multi-million-dollar mental health business that depended on state reimbursements.
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The government has filed responses to support its bribery case that says Suhl’s relationship with Jones went back to 2004, when he signed a $1,000-a-month contract to provide “marketing services” for a Suhl company.
“Jones will testify at trial, however, that he performed no work under this contract,” says the brief by a department trial attorney, Amanda Vaughn. “Instead, the defendant’s payments to him were simply a ‘retainer’ fee.”
The mention inevitably gives rise to speculation about the long-held belief that “consulting contracts” and “retainer fees” have long been a ruse used by legislators to enrich themselves in ways beyond ready reach of the state’s porous financial disclosure law. It’s particularly easy for lawyers, who need not disclose clients in their law firms. But there have long been other legislators with consulting businesses. On what do these legislators consult, when their only obvious means of support and expertise is serving in the legislature.
There are rumors that the ongoing public corruption investigation arising fro the Maggio bribery case might have expanded into such territory. Wouldn’t that be nice?