Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Henderson has scheduled a news conference this afternoon to talk about government corruption and legislative candidates in Northwest Arkansas are also calling out corruption heavily concentrated in the Republican stronghold of Northwest Arkansas. It is of course timed with the first sentencing today in the Ecclesia College scandal.

A Democratic Party release from Northwest Arkansas:


This week marks the beginning of a series of federal sentencing dates for lawmakers and backdoor middlemen who illegally steered heaps of Arkansas tax dollars into Ecclesia College in Springdale. Democratic state legislative candidates all across northwest Arkansas are standing up this week and offering voters a chance to say “no” to corruption and to set things right in the state Capitol.

Former lawmakers Jon Woods and Micah Neal have been caught red-handed. But the list of sitting lawmakers implicated in shady dealings continues to grow. The names include sitting legislators, who are running for office this November, like Charlie Collins, Bob Ballinger, Cecile Bledsoe, Jana Della Rosa, and Jim Dotson. These lawmakers must answer for their decision to participate in sending General Improvement Fund dollars to Ecclesia College, and they must inform Arkansans how they plan to return their tax dollars.

Democratic House candidate Denise Garner promises to introduce ethics legislation to end a “toxic culture of corruption.”

“Sen. Jon Woods was my state senator, and I’m disappointed in his actions while he was in office. Thankfully, today our justice system demonstrates that when it works right, no one is above the law. Corrupt politicians are being held accountable for their abuses of power.

Corruption knows no party lines, so I hope my opponent – Rep. Charlie Collins – joins me in condemning the actions of state legislators who have abused their offices for personal gain. Let’s work to restore integrity and excellence to the State Capitol, and let’s demand that every cent of public funds that was given to Ecclesia College as part of this kickback scheme be returned to Arkansas taxpayers.”

House District 93 candidate Gayatri Agnew
is calling out her opponent Jim Dotson, for giving tax dollars to the corrupted college.

“We need to expect more integrity and honesty from our elected leaders. This misuse of funds highlights the lack of concern each person involved had for their individual districts. As a constituent of Representative Jim Dotson, who gave $13,500 to Ecclesia, I am disappointed that he chose not to utilize general improvement funds to invest in our district.”

When tax dollars went to Ecclesia it meant that vital local services were shortchanged, says House District 95 candidate Celeste Williams.


“As a nurse practitioner, it is hard to stomach a kickback scheme pulling from a clinic that provides services for substance abuse and mental health. Arkansans desperately need these services, but it seems the legislators are more worried about lining their pockets with money that belongs to taxpayers.”

State Senate candidate Jim Wallace is running against Bob Ballinger. Wallace notes that bribery and corruption boil down to right and wrong.

“I believe that good leaders will follow the course that is legal, ethical and moral. Knowing the distinctions then they will pursue the course that is in the interest of the entire community they represent and not seek out loopholes in an attempt to benefit a favored, select few.”

As did Jon Comstock, running against another state Senator-patron of Ecclesia, Cecile Bledsoe.


“My takeaway is that one should not seek public office unless you have a track record of integrity, honesty and forthrightness. We just learned that as far back as 2012, Jon Woods was in the “bribery business” (at least according to statements attributed to Sen Jim Hendren, who says Woods tried to bribe him at that time). Character. I think if we examine each of now 13 persons who have been caught up in the scandals in Arkansas’ government over the last months, we will find a flaw in character that did not start with a trip to Little Rock or our great Capitol. Greed and a quest for power lead to corruption.”