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Final Update: Baker resigns from administrative position at UCA

Posted: April 2, 2014 - 9:16am

Final p.m. Update: 

Former senator Gilbert Baker resigned his executive assistant position in the University of Central Arkansas administrative office Wednesday, the university announced in the morning before its Board of Trustees was to meet in an executive session at a scheduled retreat in Mountain View.

Asked Tuesday evening in a Freedom of Information Act request to state the specific purpose of Wednesday’s executive session, the university replied on Wednesday that the board would state the purpose to the public in attendance.

The board said the executive session was to be a discussion of personnel matters, and the board did not take any action in the session Wednesday.

It was assumed that Baker’s position at the university was to be discussed in the session based on confidential reports to the Log Cabin Democrat, however, Baker resigned before the session Wednesday.

At the retreat, UCA President Tom Courtway said Baker still has tenure status with the university.

Baker, who started at UCA as an instructor in the music department, was granted tenure as an assistant professor before he left the school in 2000 for the Arkansas State Senate. He returned to the school in an administrative position with tenure on Jan. 15 of last year.

Baker has appeared in recent media reports by the Log Cabin Democrat and others alongside officers of Political Action Committees that were formed with a nursing home defendant’s corporate donations that eventually funded Circuit Judge Mike Maggio’s since abandoned campaign for Court of Appeals.

The PACs are in question because Maggio ruled in favor of a defense motion that reduced the nursing home defendant’s penalty to the family of a negligence victim from $5.2 million to $1 million the day the defendant’s corporations made contributions to the PACs.

The PAC officers — Little Rock lawyer Chris Stewart, former Justice of the Peace and local business owner Ancil Lea, Little Rock resident and former employee of Baker’s Linda Leigh Flanagin, local business owner and Baker’s former campaign manager Don Thomas, Stewart’s employee Sarah Drye, and Thomas’ employee Cheryl Loetscher — have been relatively quiet since their names were published in reports about the PACs and the committees’ contributions being used for Maggio’s campaign for a higher seat.

Contact information on the PAC registration forms appears to be incorrect for Loetscher and Lea, and other officers have not returned multiple telephone messages left at provided phone numbers, at their respective places of business or through emails seeking comment.

Thomas returned a telephone call, but he said he was not yet able to speak about the PACs.

Maggio’s campaign finances are under investigation by a judicial board, and the Arkansas Supreme Court has since stripped him of his court docket.

Maggio has not provided comment since any reports have been published about the PACs and contributions.

Baker has various associations with the PAC officers, particularly Flanagin, Stewart, Lea and Thomas, who were all part of the Arkansas chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit group that supports evangelical and conservative political causes.

Baker said in an earlier interview that he and Flanagin, who was employed by his former LRM Consulting firm, have not been with Faith and Freedom since 2012.

Baker is listed on the group’s 990 tax exempt form as holding officer and executive director positions within the organization. He was a paid officer for three years in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Stewart was secretary in 2011 and 2012, and Lea was treasurer those years.

Flanagin was with the group in 2012 as a development officer. She was also a temporary office employee for the Arkansas State Senate during sessions when Baker was a senator.

Flanagin is registered as a lobbyist for a Conway-based environmental services company called Mannco, which is a business that was a client of Lea’s James Henry Company, according to a portfolio that has in the last week been removed from the James Henry Company website.

Stewart, whose office’s answering service said he would be out until April 7 after stating last week he would be out until March 31, is the registered agent on LRM Consulting. The consulting firm officer and incorporator was Baker until it was recently changed over to James McAlister.

McAlister is listed in Baker’s past campaign documents as campaign treasurer and was a paid campaign worker in 2008.

Stewart, his law firm and a woman who shares his same listed address donated $2,000 each to Maggio’s Court of Appeals campaign, according to Maggio’s January campaign contribution report filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

Thomas, who was Baker’s campaign consultant in 2008, appeared in a state newspaper article Wednesday as saying he did not know he had been listed as a PAC officer in the PACs that contributed to Maggio’s campaign.

The PAC Thomas appears on is Thomas Group In PAC.

Another listed PAC officer, Loetscher, spoke with the Log Cabin Democrat Wednesday just after Baker’s resignation was announced by UCA, with the request that her name be cleared of association with the PACs and the committees’ funding of Maggio’s campaign.

Loetscher said she had no idea she was listed as a PAC officer with the Secretary of State’s office until a friend told her she was listed among other officers appearing in a previous Log Cabin Democrat article about an investigation into Maggio’s campaign finances, which she said came as a shock.

Loetscher is an employee of Thomas, working as an account and investment office manager for a family trust Thomas maintains.

She works out of an office in the same suite as baker’s office at the corner of Hogan Lane and Tyler Street.

Baker’s name appears on the front of the suite, but Loetscher says her office where she works for Thomas is not associated with Baker’s.

Nor do the two offices collaborate on political matters, she said.

She explained she is a registered voter and exercises her right to that extent and does not participate in political giving, fundraisers or organizations.

“This was a shock and a disappointment,” she said, adding that she would like to know who gave her name to Stewart, the Little Rock lawyer who is the registered agent on all of the PACs in question.

She said she does not know Stewart and never gave anyone permission to use her name on a PAC, and she was not contacted as the PAC she is officer of, Judicial Reform PAC, made its contribution to Maggio.

She said she wants her name removed from the PAC documents, which are registered with the Secretary of State’s office by Stewart, who signed an affidavit stating all information included is “true and correct.”

Loetscher’s contact information on the registration form lists a nonexistent address of 104 Tyler Plaza and a fax number as her telephone number.

She said her place of employment is not The Thomas Group, as it is listed on the form.

Loetscher sent two letters Tuesday to Maggio and Stewart, informing them that she never gave permission or was asked to be a part of the PAC.

The letter to Stewart states that after reading articles in the Log Cabin Democrat about her status as the PAC’s officer, she demands that she be immediately removed from any or all PACs “you may have initiated and/or registered with the AR Secretary of State’s Office,” and further states, “..And you are never to use my name again for any PAC now or in the future.”

The letter to Maggio explains also that her inclusion was not her will and asks that Maggio provide her with copies of the checks that his campaign received on behalf of the PAC she is included in as officer, “as I am determined to get to the bottom of how this took place with my name being used falsely and inappropriately.”

“A poor lady in Greenbrier nursing home had to die, or I’d never have known,” Loetscher said Wednesday referring to Martha Bull, whose family represented her estate in the negligence case against nursing homes owner Michael Morton of Fort Smith Maggio presided over last year.

Morton’s corporations are the sources of the PAC funding.

Loetscher said she wanted to add that she has nothing to hide and spoke out in an effort to ensure her family’s name was not associated with the committees in question, their formation or the contributions the PACs made to Maggio.

“It’s sad when Christian politicians try to have a biblical viewpoint for their political behavior and then give a bad rap to the ones who want to better their communities,” Loetscher said.

She wanted it included that chapter 3, verses 22 through 25 in the Bible’s book of Colossians should set an example for elected officials and politicians.

“When I was pulled into this I knew I had to come forward and tell the truth,” she said.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)








Gilbert Baker has resigned his administrative position as Executive Assistant at the University of Central Arkansas, according to a release by UCA this morning.

The UCA Board of Trustees is currently on a retreat in Mountain View and will go into executive session. After an FOI request by the Log Cabin Democrat Tuesday evening, the university responded by stating it will release the information about the session to any person who is present at the retreat.

LRM Consulting, was until last week registered with the Secretary of State as incorporated by Baker, former state Senator. Linda Leigh Flanagin, who works for LRM Consulting, is also an officer with Conservative Persons In PAC.

The PAC was one of several related to nursing homes operator Michael Morton that funded Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio’s campaign for a higher seat.

Baker told the Log Cabin Democrat that he is a friend of Flanagin’s and can’t speak for her, but he could say that he did not ask Flanagin to approach Morton last July to see if he would support several candidates, “including Maggio.”

Baker said Flanagin worked for LRM Consulting, which he started before he was hired at UCA, but that Flanagin did not approach Morton on his behalf or on behalf of his company.

Baker explained Flanagin would have been working on her own, and that she “has many irons in the fire” when it comes to fundraising.

Flanagin could not be reached for comment this week or last week at telephone numbers listed as hers on documents filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

More information coming

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Igor Rabinowitz
Igor Rabinowitz 04/02/14 - 09:43 am


ConwayFan 04/02/14 - 11:17 am

If the calls I've received in the past 48 hours are any indication....all hell is fixing to break loose....

357 04/02/14 - 11:27 am
Whatever ....

Whatever ....

lachowsj 04/03/14 - 07:25 am
Money doesn't talk

With the Supreme Court ruling striking down the cap on individual campaign contributions, money will play an even more influential role in elections. It is expected that the current makeup of the Court will lead to a series of 5-4 decisions eventually erasing all limits that have been put in place. Perhaps even worse, future rulings may very well inhibit the ability of the public to trace the contributions, allowing the wealthy to pull the puppet strings in complete anonymity.

As Bob Dylan famously said, "Money doesn't talk, it swears."

Igor Rabinowitz
Igor Rabinowitz 04/03/14 - 07:50 am
What's really striking...

... those laws which were struck down were put in place after Watergate, and Watergate's as close as we ever came to having our government collapse -- due to the effects of unregulated campaign money.

When other variable are included in the formula, yesterday's ruling may well mark the beginning of the end for Jeffersonian government.

Joe Lamb
Joe Lamb 04/03/14 - 04:04 pm


reader 04/03/14 - 10:22 am
Lot of smelly stuff coming out of this

I hope the U.S. Attorney is paying attention to all of it.

As for the comment "“It’s sad when Christian politicians try to have a biblical viewpoint for their political behavior and then give a bad rap to the ones who want to better their communities,” Loetscher said. "

Religious government is not what Arkansans or Americans want. It is one thing the constitution was created to prevent.

357 04/03/14 - 06:00 pm
I disagree, I do want a

I disagree, I do want a government based on Christian principles. I'm not alone.

ernie 04/03/14 - 08:49 pm
Just out of curiosity, whose

Just out of curiosity, whose "Christian principles" do you think would help make government better?

Would the "Christian principles" of stealing money from poor, sick old ladies--as many of the evangelical televangelists do--be the sort of "Christian principles" we should codify?

Or would you prefer the "Christian principles" of dishonoring dead veterans and their families because doing so allegedly honors God?

Or the "Christian principles" of sentencing gay people to life imprisonment or death--as some Christian African countries do?

Or the "Christian principles" of hatred and discrimination as practiced by the various Christian white supremacist groups?

Or would you simply follow the "Christian principles" of one of the 10,000 Christian denominations in existence?

Or your own personal "Christian principles" that you feel should be imposed on others?

Again, just curious.

lachowsj 04/04/14 - 09:44 am
357, you may not be alone

You may not be alone but your desire for a government based on Christian principles or any other religion is completely opposite the vision of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and almost any other founder you would care to name.

At Jefferson's own request, these are the words that appear on his gravestone because, he wrote, "by these, as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.”

The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom was first proposed by Jefferson in 1777 and finally passed in 1786. As he prepared his proposal, he quoted the philosopher John Locke in his personal notes. "[He] sais 'neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.'”
 The statute was so important to him that even as he represented the United States in France, he continued to consult by letter with Madison as to the bill's exact wording and it's progress in the legislature. He was so determined to assure that it guaranteed the rights of people of all religions and of no religion that he insisted there be no reference in the statute to Jesus or any other particular religious figure. My favorite line from the statute is, "That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry."

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