Arkansas Politics

Rev. Betsy Singleton Snyder of First United Methodist Church calls for compassion for migrant families during Wednesday's press conference.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Midway through a press conference with the Arkansas leaders of several religious denominations who were calling for an end to separating children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico, David Cook’s phone vibrated. The legislative director for Faith Voices Arkansas read a news bulletin that said President Donald Trump had reversed his position on families caught crossing into the U.S.

Cook then stepped to the podium to share the news.

Jake Files
Arkansas Times

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jake Files was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for what the judge called "egregious" violations. The Republican of Fort Smith pleaded guilty in January to charges of wire fraud, money laundering and bank fraud as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

New ethics rules are being put forward by a bipartisan group of Arkansas Senate leaders following a slate of convictions against lawmakers found guilty of redirecting state money in exchange for bribes.

Foremost among the changes may be the creation of a five-member Senate Ethics Committee to investigate claims against members.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren is leading the effort.

Clinton School of Public Service

Former President Bill Clinton brought his co-author James Patterson through Little Rock Saturday on the latest leg of a book tour; one that has generated headlines for reasons unrelated to the book.

Clinton and Patterson, a best-selling thriller novelist, came to the UA Little Rock Jack Stephens Center to discuss their novel “The President Is Missing” in a panel moderated by actress and Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen.

An ex-lobbyist has pleaded guilty in a multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe Arkansas lawmakers and embezzle from a Missouri-based nonprofit where he worked.

Rusty Cranford of Rogers, Arkansas, admitted paying bribes to former state Sen. Jon Woods, former state Rep. Henry Wilkins IV and a legislator identified only as "Arkansas Senator A." Outside his lobbying work, Cranford oversaw Springfield, Missouri-based Preferred Family Healthcare's operations in Arkansas.

Clarke Tucker
Jackson Floyd / KUAR News

Arkansas State Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, won the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, avoiding a runoff and moving on to challenge U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, in the general election.

In other races, U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, were on their way to easily defeating their Republican Party challengers.

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

As Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson faces a challenge from the right in Tuesday’s Republican primary election, he now has the backing of President Trump.

The endorsement came in the form of a tweet Monday evening after Hutchinson and four other Republican governors dined with the president at the White House to discuss border security and other issues. Trump wrote on Twitter that Hutchinson had “done an incredible job with a focus on lower taxes, border security and crime prevention.”

Baker Kurrus Little Rock School District LRSD
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

And then there were three — again.

On Monday Baker Kurrus announced he would seek the office of Little Rock Mayor, adding his name to the field that includes Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and banker Frank Scott.

Kurrus said in a short statement provided to Talk Business & Politics:

I have decided to seek the office of Mayor of Little Rock, my hometown. I will be announcing my plans for the campaign and my ideas for our city on or shortly after June 1, 2018. I look forward to an exciting five months ahead.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is expected to appear in court Friday before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. She’s being sued by Alex Gray, a lawyer representing two ballot measure groups, who says she’s not letting the state’s voter-initiated referendum process work.

“Our claim is that the specific subsection the attorney general is using to reject what is now 70 of 70 proposed ballot measures, that provision is unconstitutional,” Gray says.

Actually, another subsection of Article 5, Section 1 of the state constitution — subsection B — allows for the attorney general to rewrite ballot language in anticipation of certification. Rutledge has not done that, Gray alleges in the suit.

An Arkansas Supreme Court justice is asking a judge to prevent several television stations from airing a conservative group's ads targeting her during her re-election bid.

Justice Courtney Goodson filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court Monday seeking an order to block the ads run by the Judicial Crisis Network. The Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks judicial spending, says the Washington-based group has spent more than $519,000 on television ads.

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