Arkansas Politics

A former Arkansas Senate president who admitted spending more than $150,000 of campaign funds on personal items has been released from federal prison.

The Jonesboro Sun reports that former Sen. Paul Bookout was released from federal prison earlier this month and will complete the remainder of his sentence at his home in Jonesboro.

Bookout pleaded guilty to one count of federal mail fraud and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He began serving his sentence in May 2016 at a minimum-security prison in Illinois.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's campaign says it has nearly $1.2 million in the bank as the Republican ramps up his re-election bid for next year.

Hutchinson's campaign on Monday reported it raised more than $526,000 over the past three months and spent more than $37,000. Hutchinson, who was first elected in 2014, formally announced in May that he was seeking a second term but had already been raising money for a re-election bid.

So far no Democrats have announced a bid to challenge Hutchinson. Hutchinson has raised nearly $1.3 million total for his re-election bid.

KATV

A central Arkansas prosecutor has been nominated for a U.S. attorney post in the state.

The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump has nominated Cody Hiland to serve as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas.

Hiland is currently the prosecuting attorney for the state's 20th judicial district, which includes Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy counties. Hiland has formerly worked at the Arkansas Public Service Commission, the Arkansas Transitional Employment Board and is a former legislative liaison and aide for former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The new Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas State Capitol was destroyed Wednesday less than 24 hours after it was unveiled. A spokesman for the Secretary of State's office says a driver intentionally sped toward the six foot tall granite tablet at about 4:45 a.m. and was immediately apprehended by Capitol Police.

Arkansas Capitol
flickr.com

An Arkansas panel has approved a 2 percent pay raise for all of the state's top elected officials except the lieutenant governor, who has said he didn't want the bump in salary.

The Independent Citizens Commission voted 4-0 to increase the salaries for the state's constitutional officers, legislators, judges and prosecutors. The pay raise will take effect in 10 days.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin last week said he opposed the pay raise and said he would decline the additional money if approved by the panel. The panel voted to keep Griffin's salary at $42,315.

U.S. Senate Republicans unveil their long-awaited bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. How will it affect Arkansans on the exchanges and the Medicaid rolls? Sen. Tom Cotton helped shape it with a select group in secret. Why has he been silent? Also, thoughts from other Republicans, Democrats and people in between.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) questioning Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about Russian hacking.
C-SPAN

Republicans in the U.S. Senate released the initial draft of a healthcare bill Thursday that will reduce Medicaid spending, cut taxes for the wealthy, limit subsidies to private insurance companies, remove health insurance mandates, lower taxes for companies in the healthcare industry and enact other changes.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

As Republicans in the U.S. Senate near completion of an initial bill that could vastly alter or replace Obamacare, a  group of demonstrators gathered outside the Victory Building in Little Rock. They delivered the offices of Republican Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman each about a thousand post cards from residents in the state. The cards, collected by activists with Arkansas Community Organizations and the group Health Care for America Now, ask the Senators to preserve Medicaid expansion and other benefits made available through federal health law. 

On this Week-In-Review, we put Arkansas's congressional delegation in the spotlight as Trump ignores the state's agricultural interests on his newly announced Cuba policies. Also, Sen. Tom Cotton dismisses Russia collusion and  Sen. Boozman is short on healthcare specifics.

-Elections were held throughout Arkansas this week: Pulaski County votes to send more money to schools; Pine Bluff takes a stab at revitalization; and Helena-West Helena makes an effort to pare down its sprawling city council.

One Capitol Mall has houses the Joint Budget Committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Legislative Council executive committee gave permission on Thursday (June 15) for the Bureau of Legislative Research to hire outside legal counsel, a move designed to help the legislative research group cope with requests from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and possibly other investigatory agencies.

Talk Business & Politics reports.

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