Here’s more reading in corrupt Arkansas politics. It includes a succinct statement of crimes the feds were investigating against Jon Woods, not all of them ultimately presented in court. The document brings others uncharged into the picture, such as former Sen. Michael Lamoureux, who served for a time as Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff and is now a lobbyist. It outlines another new bribe allegation against Woods that didn’t result in a charge.
In this, the government answers last October a defense motion for discovery of evidence not yet produced with an outline of illegal acts it was investigating and might use to show an inclination toward illegal activity on defendants’ part:
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* Woods directed and influenced others to send General Improvement Fund money to a nonprofit known as Arkansas Health and Economic Research. Randell Shelton, Woods’ friend and intermediary on Eccelsia College kickbacks, was one of the key players in the company and personally benefitted from that money.
* $50,000 in GIF money was funneled in 2013 through the West Arkansas Planning and Development District to Ecclesia College. Half the money then went to a corporation set up by Shelton and he
On December 12, 2013, [college president Oren] Paris texted Shelton telling him that an Ecclesia College employee “needs the name for the app.” Shelton responded, “Ok tell him him [sic] Sen. Michael Lamoureux is the name. Either u or Mike needs to call Dwayne and let him know it is being sent to him via email and it is for $50,000 – and find out if u need to also overnight the hard copy.”
Lamoureux’s name has turned up several times in GIF spending and also as a recipient of legal fees from an agency involved in the Preferred Family Healthcare scandal.
During the trial of Woods, it became apparent that Woods worked not only with Lamoureux but directly with Gov. Asa Hutchinson on ideas about funneling money to Ecclesia, including in a bill the governor signed directing marijuana tax money to the college.
* In 2014, $50,000 was again funneled via an application in the name of Lamoureux to Ecclesia. Again half the money soon went to Shelton’s company, Paradigm. Again, he soon made cash withdrawals from Paradigm’s account.
* In January 2015, Woods influenced officials at the state Department of Education to make a rules change favorable to Ecclesia College so it could have a teacher education program. He was first advised by a legislative lawyer this would require action by the state Board of Education or the legislature, but he was also given a point of contact at the department.
On January 12, 2015, Woods forwarded to Paris emails from two officials at the Arkansas Department of Education stating, “Oren Congratulations! Read below.” In one of the emails, the Director of the Office of Educator Licensure at the Arkansas Depa1tment of Education emailed an employee at Ecclesia College with copy to Paris and Woods stating, “After further reviewing the law, our educator licensure rules, and our policies governing educator prep programs, we will be working to align our policies with our educator licensure rules to reflect national or regional accrediting agencies. That revision may take some time, but as this is permitted by our educator licensure rules, Ecclesia College may submit a proposal for program approval at this time.” Paris responded to Woods’ email, “Excellent. Thank you a bunch. That was fast,”
* Woods sponsored and voted for Act 441 of 2015 that provided up to $250,000 in GIF money for shingle recycling. Earlier, Woods and Shelton and Oren Paris had taken steps to form shingle recycling businesses.
* Woods was behind legislation that would have directed revenue from a tax on medical marijuana to Ecclesia College.
* Woods solicited a bribe to get out of a legislative race. From the document:
The Government anticipates offering testimony from REDACTED that in the Fall of 2012, he met in person with Woods at Woods’s request. At that meeting, Woods told REDACTED that there was talk of redistricting the Senate districts such that Woods and REDACTED would be running against each other in the Senate race.
According to REDACTED Woods told REDACTED that Woods would be willing to move out of REDACTED’s district if REDACTED would give him $10,000 or $12,000. (REDACTED could not recall the exact dollar amount). Woods told REDACTED that this type of relationship happened all the time in politics and that he would need to have the money in cash. REDACTED will testify that REDACTED told Woods REDACTED did not do business that way and left the meeting.
UPDATE: The Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday that the bribe offer was made to Sen. Jim Hendren. He said he reported it to authorities, but declined to wear a wire as the FBI had suggested
“They asked me if I was willing to. I decided not to wear a wire and push it, but to run my race.”
Woods’ attorney naturally said none of this is true and Woods is an innocent man.
Hendren went on to serve four years in the Senate with Wood while he was merrily drawing kickbacks from encouraging people to send money to Ecclesia and engaging in other acts. I can’t recall Hendren ever calling Woods down.