DOYLE WEBB: With his wife, Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Barbara Webb.

Governor Sanders has named Doyle Webb, the failed candidate for lieutenant governor, former chair of the state Republican Party and husband to state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Webb, to chair the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

The powerful Public Service Commission regulates public utilities in the state, including electric, gas, telecommunications and water and sewer services.

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Webb replaces Kimberly O’Guinn on the commission and Katie Anderson as chair. Anderson will remain on the commission. Webb’s appointment runs through Jan. 14, 2029.

Anderson only served as chair for a brief time after Ted Thomas, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s appointment to head the commission, resigned in September 2022. Thomas, a former Republican legislator and staffer in the Huckabee administration, was widely respected, and somewhat remarkably in this political climate, not afraid to talk about climate change and speak critically of the Trump administration’s climate policy. He was also publicly critical of electrical co-ops slow-walking interconnecting customers’ solar panels to the grid.

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Beyond his political connections, Webb has little to recommend him for the job. Max Brantley rounded up his professional biography and nose for cush jobs a few years ago after he got a $150,000 job with the attorney general’s office to be a part of a redistricting team. Webb finished a distant fifth in the crowded Republican primary for lieutenant governor last year.

Webb’s financial record has been spotty: a complaint by his sister over handling of their mother’s estate; getting in law-licensing-threatening trouble over getting $321,000 from a client’s will; real estate and tax questions. There was his controversial appointment to a no-office-hours job as Bryant city attorney under the reign of Jill “Republican” Dabbs while he was working as GOP chair.

In 2020, he scored a $20,000 commission for raising cash for a committee fighting a proposal for — wait for it — a nonpartisan legislative districting commission. It wasn’t heavy lifting. He tapped fatcat Repubs like Warren Stephens for the money.

Webb has a nose for cash and I guess he needed some having just ended a well-compensated tenure as Republican Party chair. A bumper sticker once seen around Benton, Webb’s hometown, said: “Where there’s a will, there’s a Webb,” a reference to his estate work. A new suggestion: Where there’s a dole there’s Doyle.

Michael Mayton is a Little Rock lawyer who specializes in defending employers and insurance carriers. His appointment runs through Dec. 31, 2027. He replaces Christopher Palmer on the commission.

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Both positions likely come with six-figure salaries. Thomas made $154,000 in the role Webb will now take on. Scotty Douthit, listed on the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission website as current chairman, draws a salary of $162,000, according to the state payroll. We’ve asked the Sanders’ administration for up-to-date pay figures.