Yesterday, we reported that Gov. Sarah Sanders had nominated Lindsay Wallace to serve as the new secretary of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Near the end of that post, we noted the following:
Wallace, who has served as chief of staff at the Department of Corrections since August 2020, currently earns $157,500 per year. While she will certainly get a raise as secretary, there’s no word yet as to what her salary will be. Profiri earned about $210,000 per year in the role.
As it turns out, Wallace will earn $167,000 per year in her new role, according to the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, or roughly $43,000 less than what former secretary Joe Profiri was earning in the same position.
Wallace’s salary is in the same ballpark as the two most recent people to hold the head corrections position before Profiri. But the $9,500 raise she received is much lower than the raises given her predecessors when they were elevated to the role.
Former governor Asa Hutchinson promoted Solomon Graves from corrections chief of staff (the same position that Wallace held prior to yesterday) to corrections secretary in 2020. At that time, Graves’ salary went from $85,599.90 to $149,861.92, a raise of $64,262.09 or roughly 75%. Wendy Kelley, who was secretary before Graves, earned $161,262.19 annually, making Graves’ salary a decrease of about 7% from Kelley’s.
When Sanders appointed Profiri in 2023, he was given $210,000 per year, though testimony from members of the Board of Corrections at a hearing last month suggested that the board never actually approved Profiri’s salary. After the board fired Profiri, Sanders immediately announced that she was going to employ him as a “senior advisor” on matters related to corrections, and she asked the legislature to approve extra funding so that she could pay Profiri $201,699 in this new position.
By all accounts yesterday, both sides in the ongoing fight between the governor and the board of corrections were pleased with Wallace’s nomination as secretary. That being the case, Wallace’s receiving only a $9,500 pay increase raises a number of questions:
- Why would Wallace receive only a $9,500 raise when the last person to be promoted directly from her old position to her new one received an increase of over $64,000?
- Why would Wallace receive $43,000 less than her immediate predecessor?
- Why would Wallace receive more than $34,000 less as corrections secretary than Profiri is earning as “corrections consultant” for the governor after being terminated for insubordination?
- Adjusted for inflation, former corrections secretary Wendy Kelley’s $161,262.19 in 2020 is equal to nearly $190,000 in 2024, and Graves’ $149,861.92 would be worth $176,433; why wouldn’t Wallace earn as much as Kelley (or at the very least Graves) in inflation-adjusted dollars?
- What in the world is Joe Profiri doing for $201,699 per year if there’s now a corrections secretary, since it’s clear he’s not helping the governor vet corrections-related appointees?
Attempts to have some of these questions answered by the governor’s office were unsuccessful. As it stands, Wallace has taken over a department still embroiled in a constitutional fight with the governor’s office over — among other things — who exactly Wallace answers to. At a bare minimum, you would think that someone taking over a department fraught with so much drama would not be paid $43,000 less than the guy she is replacing.
I guess the governor’s “respect women” stance extends only as far as pointlessly banning “anti-women words” and doesn’t mean women are entitled to equal pay for the same work under Sanders.