Rep. Bob Ballinger represented corporate interests, of course, at a debate before the Northwest Arkansas Political Animals Friday on Issue One, to close the door of the courthouse to medical malpractice and nursing home negligence suits and strip the Supreme Court of rule-making authority in favor of the corrupt, corporate-controlled legislature. Ballinger’s whine about mistreatment of legislators got the belly laugh he deserved.

I’d gotten a good report on this earlier from Lucci Chambless of Democrat Jon Comstock’s campaign for state Senate against Sen. Cecile Bledsoe of the money-grubbing Bledsoe clan. (Her husband got hired out of retirement into a $182,000 health department job; she gets $42,000 plus per diem plus good insurance as legislator, her son, Greg, though employed at Arkansas Heart Hospital, gets about $173,000 a year as surgeon general, a job that has no phone or office or duties readily apparent to those paying his salary.)

But you have to hear the guffaws when Ballinger complains about people “beating up” on the legislature.

My friends in the legislature are servants. Not one of them, not one of them out there right now is benefitting from being [there].

When the crowd roars with laughter and disbelief, Ballingershouts

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My point exactly.

Wrote Chambless:

I was at the event and got to confront Ballinger about his bald-faced lies and the absolute fact that never, in the history of the state of Arkansas, has a jury awarded an excessive verdict. He tried to squirm his way around answering the question. He eventually got too flustered to make sense and ended up throwing a fit about how being an elected official is a thankless job.

… I can only assume that he stomped off to call him mother and tell her how mean we were being. 

The recent felon count, in case Ballinger’s memory is short, includes Jon Woods, Micah Neal, Hank Wilkins, Eddie Cooper and Jake Files. All guilty of stealing taxpayer money.

But that ain’t nearly all.

The count of people demonstrated to have made money from legislative connections include Bob Ballinger himself (hip-deep in the Ecclesia College scandal as money supplier and lawyer for the “religious” enterprise and with side hustles connected to the medical marijuana debacle, too), Michael Lamoureux, Jeremy Hutchinson, Gilbert Baker and Linda Chesterfield. Whether from “attorney fees,” “consultant fees” or special interest lobby payments, they’ve all profited as legislators from people with interests in matters before the legislature. I am confident that is a partial list.

Cry me a river, Bob (who also dishonestly portrayed the legislative takeover of the courts on all rules, not just in torts but every area of legal practice)

ECCLESIA SCANDAL UPDATE: We’ve known for some time that legislative chicanery in 2015 included an appropriation bill designed to give Ecclesia and only Ecclesia some financial benefits, though it wasn’t named in the bill. Thanks to reporting Sunday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by Doug Thompson, we now know Gov. Asa Hutchinson was advised at the time that the legislation was unconstitutional but he signed it anyway. According to a whistleblower, Hutchinson signed off on the handout to Ecclesia after input from Michael Lamoureux, his chief of staff and an influencer in various corrupt matters related to Ecclesia or Preferred Family Healthcare. (Insert standard line: “He has not been charged with a crime.”) The only good news in this cesspool of corruption is that this particular $33,000 intended to reach Ecclesia through the corrupt GIF scheme never got passed to the college because the crookedness afoot there finally drew the attention of federal regulators and prosecutors.

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