Yesterday, jurors convicted former Arkansas State Senator Jon Woods on 15 felony counts consisting of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
Woods was at the center of a corrupt scheme to reward cronies at Ecclasia College and AmeriWorks with GIFs — state General Improvement Funds — in return for kickbacks. Former State Rep. Micah Neal, his co-conspirator, pleaded guilty more than a year ago. And last month, the former president of Ecclesia College, Oren Paris III, also admitted guilt.
Regular readers may remember Woods as the Senate author of Issue 3, placed on the 2014 ballot by legislators — along with a summary for voters to read that fibbed about “establishing term limits” and imposing a gift ban between lobbyists and legislators.
Enough voters were hoodwinked,* leading to the gutting of term limits (allowing a legislator to stay in the same seat for 16 years), the empowering of a legislature-appointed “Independent” Commission to bestow a 150 percent pay raise on legislators, and the enabling of legislators to eat every meal at the lobbyists’ trough.
Mr. Woods now faces as many as 20 years on each of 14 counts and ten more years on the money laundering conviction. Having experienced, in a previous life, the poor customer service in the federal prison system, I do not wish that on anyone.
But justice has been done.
More good news: the Arkansas Supreme Court has since ruled the entire corrupt GIF program unconstitutional . . . while Arkansas Term Limits closes in on completion of their petition drive to place a measure on this November’s ballot to restore the term limits stolen by Woods.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* The measure passed 52 to 48 percent at the ballot box.
Previous coverage here of Woods’ corruption: