Then-state senator and Senate president pro tempore Michael Lamoureux insisted that a Hot Springs-based planning and development district that distributed state General Improvement Funds approve a grant to Ecclesia College despite problems with the college’s application, a witness in the public corruption trial of former Sen. Jon Woods testified yesterday. Ecclesia, in Springdale, is about 200 miles from Hot Springs.

Doug Thompson reports for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that in 2013, Ecclesia College received a $50,000 state grant even before it applied for the money and received another $50,000 after back-dating another application that missed a grant deadline, according to testimony yesterday.

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Dwayne Pratt, director of the West Central Planning and Development District in Hot Springs, testified about the grants and pressure by Lamoureux, who was later chief of staff to Governor Hutchinson before moving to a lobbying job.

Lamoureux’s records show no grants to Ecclesia, Thompson reports. The grants are not at issue in the trial of Woods, who was indicted for taking kickbacks from Ecclesia through a middleman. Ecclesia College’s former president, Oren Paris III, and former state Rep. Micah Neal, who were also indicted, have pleaded guilty. The trial began April 9 in federal court in Fayetteville. 

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