Monday, February 13, 2017

Many Republican Legislators in NWA Directed Public Money to Ecclesia

Former State Representative Micah Neal of Springdale was recently caught up in a scandal where he received kickbacks from a third party to direct GIF money to tiny Ecclesia College. A former state Senator, widely believed to be Jon Woods, was also implicated.

But those are not the two legislators who directed money to Ecclesia in the 2013-2015 time frame. That tiny school was very good at getting state money. There is, as of yet, no evidence to suggest that any of the other legislators received kick backs for directing state money that way. For those who gave only small amounts, I would not expect there to be any kick backs. Maybe they just saw a band wagon and jumped on it- and there is another lesson in there somewhere. Here is a list compiled by reporter Doug Thompson, and here is a link to a report by him where they give their explanations.

Woods (R-Springdale) $350,000

Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) $60,000 (at least its in his district)

State Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R-Rogers) $60,000

Former  state Rep. Micah Neal (R-Springdale) $50,000 to the college

Former state Rep. Randy Alexander (R-Rogers) $26,500

Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) $14,000

Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville) $13,5000  (at least he is an alumnus of Ecclesia College)

Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) $8,500

Rep. Debra Hobbs (R-Rogers) $10,000

Rep. Stephen Meeks (R-Greenbrier, the sole legislator on this list not from northwest Arkansas) $25,000 (for matching money for a federal student aid grant).

That was just GIF money. Much smaller amounts came as "work force education" grants (basically scholarship money) as directed by legislators in the following amounts....

 — $1,000 from Sen. Uvalde Lindsey (a Democrat), $5,000 from Rep. Grant Hodges, $5,000 from Rep. Jana Della Rosa, $10,000 from Rep. Justin Harris and $5,000 from Rep. Charlie Collins.


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