VALUES CANDIDATE: That's in the past of the new boss of booze and pot regulation in Arkansas, Doralee Chandler.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Doralee Chandler as new director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control administration to succeed Mary Robin Casteel, who’s going to the governor’s staff as chief legal counsel. She’ll oversee regulation of the alcohol and medical marijuana business.

I’ve asked the governor’s office for pay information. Casteel has been making about $101,000 and it will increase to $103,000. Chandler has been making $74,800 as counsel for state Crime Laboratory and will now make $101,081, same as Casteel received. Justin Tate, who has been legal counsel, will be working in a different area of the office.


Casteel, who goes to work for the governor Monday, has been ABC administrator since May 2017 when Bud Roberts stepped down without explanation. Hutchinson said she’d served the state well.

Chandler will move to the ABC, a division of Finance and Administration, Dec. 3. Deanna Ray, a staff attorney, will be interim director in the meanwhile.


Hutchinson said Chandler’s 20 years of law practice and experience working with law enforcement made her a good pick.

Chandler has been at the Crime Lab since September 2015. She worked for a civil defense firm for 17 years before that.


Hutchinson didn’t mention what I remember Chandler for: She was among a phalanx of judicial candidates centered on Faulkner County in 2014 who enjoyed huge support from the nursing home industry in their bids for office. The most infamous was Michael Maggio, now in federal prison for being influenced by his nursing home contributions to reduce a $5.2 million jury verdict against a nursing home owned by his major campaign benefactor, Michael Morton. Morton hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Chandler, who was defeated for a race for circuit judge by H.G. Foster, raised about $48,000 for the race, with $28,000 from Michael Morton companies and $6,000 from Conway nursing homes. She also got a $1,000 contribution from the Van Buren County Republican Committee for the nominally nonpartisan udicial race. She followed a popular approach of Republican judicial candidates by working Republican meetings for support and pocketing cash from people anxious to reduce exposure to negligence and malpractice lawsuits. Her traditional values platform will be put to the test at ABC on such matters as just how much skin may be exposed by dancers in “gentlemen’s clubs.” Better that than overseeing nursing home regulation.