Both Michael Wickline in the news pages of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and John Brummett in an opinion column elaborated further today on Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s use of public money to provide plump featherbeds for Republican insiders.
As we’d reported previously, former GOP Party Chair Doyle Webb got the biggest public teat — $150,000 a year as “staff director” of Rutledge’s one-third share of the board that oversees legislative apportionment. Former Republican legislators Andy Davis and Doug House are suckling on the state nozzle at $6,666 a month to work on the same project.
Wickline’s article provided some useful history. Ten years ago, when the board of apportionment last redrew district lines following a Census (the count hasn’t been completed this year but Rutledge’s triumvirate are already hungrily sucking down state dollars), neither Democratic Governor Mike Beebe nor Attorney General Dustin McDaniel took on extra help. They used existing staffers. Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin hired some outside Republican help and also tried unsuccessfully to give the staff director job to Timothy Hutchinson Jr., the current governor’s nephew. This go-round, Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of State John Thurston intend to ship money to Republican consultants, but Hutchinson, at least, is using political party money to pay for his partisan spear carriers.
Understood: This was always going to be a partisan exercise.
Also new from Wickline is the entry in the discussion of Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, an announced opponent of Rutledge for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022. Griffin makes political hay of Rutledge’s spendthrift ways, including her $2.2 million in TV spending last year for “Rutledge Report” ads promoting herself in the name of “consumer protection.” Griffin did NOT avail himself of the opportunity to question Rutledge’s seditious and taxpayer-supported participation in a meritless lawsuit to block Joe Biden’s election by disenfranchising voters in four states, none of them Arkansas. That Rutledge action is being challenged as unconstitutional spending in an illegal exaction lawsuit in Pulaski Circuit Court. Griffin dare not get on the wrong side of devotion to Donald Trump by bringing THAT up.
Still: Live by the public teat and sometimes you might die by it,
When I wrote the first published article about Webb’s $150,000 payola, I brought up another issue. Thanks to Republican branding, Webb’s wife, Barbara Webb, was elected last year to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Doyle Webb’s new “law firm,” the attorney general’s office, has business before the Arkansas Supreme Court virtually every time it conferences. I emailed a question to Justice Webb: Will she hear cases involving her husband’s employer or the Republican Party he led for so many years?
She did not respond.
PS: My Dole for Doyle headline is a play on the bumper stickers that appeared in Benton after lawyer Doyle Webb got in ethical hot water for angling to benefit from estates — his mother’s first, according to his sister’s complaint, and later a client, which led to a bar disciplinary proceeding.
“Where there’s a will there’s a Webb,” it said