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Maggio, PAC funding still in question

Posted: March 27, 2014 - 5:34pm

The timing of the formation and funding of six political action committees, PACs, related to nursing homes operator Michael Morton that funded Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio’s campaign for a higher seat is still in question.

The PACs, formed with an initial and sole contribution from Morton’s entities made on July 8 of last year, the day Maggio ruled in favor of a defense motion to reduce Morton’s payout in a nursing home negligence case, have six officers in total and one sole agent, Little Rock lawyer Chris Stewart.

Officers are Sarah Drye, officer of Go Good Government PAC; Don Thomas, officer of Thomas Group In PAC and Taxpayers for Change PAC; Linda Leigh Flanagin, officer of Conservative Persons In PAC; Ancil Lea, officer of Citizens for Information Technology PAC; and Cheryl Loetscher, officer of Judicial Reform PAC.

Stewart is agent and officer on a seventh PAC, D. Bruce Hawkins 2 PAC, that contributed to Maggio, but that also contributed to other candidates.

Stewart could not be reached for comment this week, and the telephone service answering the phone at Stewart’s office said he would be out until March 31.

Drye, who is listed on Go Good Government PAC’s registration form as an employee of Stewart’s, was also unavailable until March 31 and did not return a message seeking comment left at the telephone number provided on the form.

Don Thomas, officer of Thomas Group In PAC and Taxpayers for Change PAC, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Thursday.

Thomas, who is the registered agent with the Secretary of State’s Office on six corporations out of Conway, is listed as retired.

Ancil Lea, officer of Citizens for Information Technology, could not be reached for comment.

Lea’s telephone number on the PAC registration is an out of service number that returns to the Log Cabin Democrat.

Lea is listed as self-employed.

Cheryl Loetscher, officer of Judicial Reform PAC, was also unable to be reached, with a fax number listed as her telephone number along with a nonexistent Conway address of 104 Tyler Plaza.

Her listed employer, The Thomas Group, is not registered with the Secretary of State’s office.

Linda Leigh Flanagin, officer of Conservative Persons In PAC, 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.

Flanagin’s listed employer is LRM Consulting, which was until last week registered with the Secretary of State as incorporated by former senator Gilbert Baker, now executive assistant to President Tom Courtway at the University of Central Arkansas.

The business is now incorporated by James McAlister, and the registered agent is Chris Stewart.

Baker said Thursday 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.

“She could have solicited support for the PACs at that time, but it is my understanding she did not,” Baker said, explaining it would be illegal to solicit campaign contributions to the judge race more than 180 days ahead of the election.

Flanagin’s LinedIn profile says she is in development at Arkansas Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group that aims at “educating and mobilizing people of faith” to be “effective citizens” and supports evangelical causes.

The group’s website says Baker is the director, but he said Thursday he and Flanagin both have left the organization.

Faith and Freedom Coalition listed Baker as a past director on its 2012 tax exempt form.

Maggio has been under investigation by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for “general allegations” concerning his campaign contributions, and the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the nursing home negligence case has filed a complaint with the Arkansas Ethics Commission asking for an investigation specifically into the PACs, their officer Chris Stewart, Morton and any other individuals that “may be involved with any improper solicitation and/or contribution of judicial campaign funds” due to the timing of the PACs’ funding, the funding source, and the money’s eventual push to Maggio’s Court of Appeals race.

Maggio left the race amid another controversy about questionable comments he made on an LSU fan forum website that also prompted a JDDC investigation.

The Supreme Court, citing “recusal issues” has pulled Maggio’s docket, and his cases are going before Faulkner County Circuit Judge Ed Clawson.

A constitutional amendment called Issue 3 that will be put to voters in November would ban corporate contributions in campaigns and limit them to an individual, a political party or political action committee.

Political Action Committees are funded privately by individuals and corporations who wish to influence legislation or elect favorable candidates to office.

The House Joint Resolution is by Representative Warwick Sabin and Senator J. Woods and is subtitled “The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment of 2014.”

(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)

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bekael
150
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bekael 03/28/14 - 07:43 am
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PACs

"Political Action Committees are funded privately by individuals and corporations who wish to influence legislation or elect favorable candidates to office."
Yep.....that's what they do and that's what they did AND it worked. No secret there.

reader
20171
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reader 03/28/14 - 08:05 am
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Great work LCD

So many prominent people involved in this whole mess, and with new age media, no one answering phones? Hmmm. Something smells all the way down here in Maumelle.

Now the Secretary of State needs to investigate these 'corporations' to verify their legitimacy.

Even Gilbert Baker is connected to this? Maybe he should step down from his position at UCA until investigations into all these matters is complete, especially considering UCA's recent prominence in the news, IMHO.

Elmer Fudd
5086
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Elmer Fudd 03/28/14 - 09:01 am
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Reader

it seems Mr. Baker may have stepped in it as well. Ya think?

reader
20171
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reader 03/28/14 - 09:39 am
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I won't point fingers but

if my name was linked in to all these 'corporations' and transactions, I'd be preparing my rear end for a colonoscopy by a U.S. Attorney, and they can find out the facts.

Our government and our justice system are not for sale. All devised in the dark will see the light some day.

mikeng1994
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mikeng1994 03/28/14 - 10:00 am
2
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"Our government and our

"Our government and our justice system are not for sale. All devised in the dark will see the light some day."

Sound advice for anyone seeking public office regardless of their affiliation.

Igor Rabinowitz
9594
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/28/14 - 11:49 am
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Alas

After the Citizens United ruling, it was made fairly clear that money is free speech, in turn making government and it's elected officials a thing for sale.

What we're seeing here is that fuzzy line between corruption and political free speech ... because democracy, again, is for sale.

And look at the outcome, as the country becomes ever-more a nation of haves and have-nots with a unprecedented middle-class erosion, as the national debate becomes a funded scream fest between the funded and the (labeled).

reader
20171
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reader 03/28/14 - 03:59 pm
0
0
Excellent points Igor

We need to change a lot of that.

Igor Rabinowitz
9594
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/28/14 - 07:56 pm
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I agree of course

Because everything I ever post is solid gold... but enough about me.

What's really at issue is how "we" could ever hope to change that. The elites have, and it took years, engineered a system where politics, and in turn government, are beholding to them. The laws, then, are beholding to the campaign contributors, and in turn those with the deepest pockets are the most beholden.

And this same group, which enjoys the power (and who wouldn't) then uses these same politicians they've bought to further solidify their position, and doing this in ways great and small (it's one of the main reasons political debate has become this farce of crocodile tears and exclusion).

Consider that in today's environment, no way Eisenhower would receive a nomination for president, no way would the national highway system be funded, and (saint) Reagan would have an almost-impossible time being nominated.

Oh no, consider further that Clinton was further to the right than Eisenhower, and taking that further, one of his first appointments was a Wall Street guy in order to assure those types monetary policy would suit their desires -- because to do otherwise would be political suicide.

And then consider how useful blue-collar jobs have left this country (been by the bus factory lately?), and those who sent them away received tax breaks for doing so, that same group, by the way, getting richer why the averge of us has gotten poorer. Period.

It's a scam, but what's worse is it's a self-perpetuating scam. The rich really do get richer, the poor really do get poorer. The keep us from uniting against this through various means, including faux "us v. them" so-called debates (perpetuated on the networks they own, and on the floor of legislatures by the politicians they bought, who are reported on by the networks they own, etc.) and, sure, the occasional lottery winner / lucky break guy leaving us with the impression if we shut up and stay in line maybe we can join the swells.

But during that same time a number of us got poorer, and the richer did, in fact, get richer.

It's a giant scam, a carny game rigged against us.

libertas
173
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libertas 03/28/14 - 08:32 pm
1
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Not Quite

Igor,

We live in a representative democracy where less than 50% of registered voters bother to vote then complain about being victims of bad politicians. There is no reason anyone in this country cannot succeed unless they have physical impairments that handicap their chances. Faulkner County created Judge Maggio and the damage he caused from the bench, this is a small town,if the same people keep filling the same seats of power do something about it.

Who should the victims of Maggio's bias from the bench blame for the damage he has done to their lives?

conwaygerl
7182
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conwaygerl 03/29/14 - 08:19 am
1
2
Igor is correct

The bought and paid for people are completely satisfied with section 8 housing and a cell phone.

No one has ever gotten rich off of the government.

Welfare is the new slavery...you get what the government decides you are worth and not a penny more.

Sending the jobs overseas helps make the government the better option too. There was a time when a minimum wage earner could build a nest egg, but no longer.

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