Arkansas legislators have been under a magnifying glass for a while now. And not just by reporters and auditors or voters. If you’ve been reading the papers over the last couple of years, you know that Uncle Sam has been watching them, too.
And not without reason, given the stories we’ve read.
Senate President Jim Hendren and House Speaker Matthew Shepherd have had their work cut out for them in restoring a trustworthy reputation to the Ledge. And to their credit, we’ve seen new ethics rules created and online video streaming brought to the state Senate, increasing transparency.
But five words from an article in this paper on a former lobbyist being sentenced show us the storm isn’t over yet.
You may recall a former lobbyist by the name of Milton “Rusty” Cranford. He was implicated in a bribery scheme with some of our lawmakers in the recent past. Here’s a little refresher on his crimes, as per the Tuesday newspaper:
“Cranford appeared before U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes in Springfield because that is where his former employer, Preferred Family Healthcare, is based. Cranford spent almost $4 million making illegal campaign donations, kickbacks and other gifts to Arkansas lawmakers between 2011 to 2017 to ensure the nonprofit behavioral health provider received grants, favorable legislation and relief from scrutiny, according to his guilty plea. Company executives also committed Medicaid fraud to overcharge state taxpayers, according to guilty pleas and indictments in the case.”
After all that, it’s no wonder he got a seven-year sentence. But the most powerful five words in the article come in the second paragraph:
“The investigation is not over.”
It seems there might still be a few chickens that have not yet come home to roost. Hopefully the message “federal prosecutors don’t mess around” has been received by any other would-be bad actors thinking of corrupting public offices in this state. Or even those public officials who are corruptible.
You can say a lot in five words. For example: A storm could be a-comin’.
Print Headline: Five easy words