A word of praise here for Conduit for Action, the ultraright lobby that has generally failed in its effort to reduce government by slashing spending on medical services for poor people. Opposed though I generally am to much of its core philosophy, it DOES call out government corruption and hypocrisy. Case in point: Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, as illustrated in their video clip from 2017.


I wrote Sunday, following reporting by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, about Wardlaw’s mostly undisclosed business partnership with scandal-linked nursing home owner David Norsworthy and then the sale of that business to an even bigger nursing home magnate, the scandal-linked Michael Morton, who now is Wardlaw’s employer. Yes: the state’s biggest nursing home owner has an employee on the floor of the legislature.

What is Wardlaw’s business? Selling medical supplies, particularly to businesses, like nursing homes, that get state Medicaid and Medicare payments.


So it is entertaining to see Conduit dig up video of Wardlaw talking about the evils of big government. He was talking about a bit of accountability legislation proposed for the Department of Human Services, which administers Medicaid. Medicaid is a $7 BILLION business in Arkansas each year. Almost $1 billion of it goes to long-term care. More money goes to — you guessed it — medical supplies in other settings.

Wardlaw purchased Mallard Medical Supply in 2013. It’s apparently grown. It reaped $900,000 in Medicaid payments alone from 2015-18. Wardlaw bought an office for the business in Warren for $135,000, then valued it at $550,000 when he used it for collateral for a $1.8 million loan. That loan has been paid off, the D-G reported.


Big government? It means big business for medical supplies salesmen. I think it fair to be wary of legislators in that business who question additional regulation of the agency from which their money flows.

If you watch the video, you’ll see Sen. Bryan King joining Rep. Josh Miller at the table in support of the DHS bill that Wardlaw criticized in 2017. King, defeated by scandal-marred Ecclesia College friend, legal counsel and beneficiary Sen. Bob Ballinger, had a tumultuous reign as chairman of Joint Audit. The committee put the felonious Martha Shoffner on a grill; uncovered the GIF/Ecclesia scandal; skewered dishonest University of Arkansas administrators, and tried to go after waste in Medicaid spending by DHS (another mother lode of corruption, federal prosecutors have since demonstrated). Disagree though I did with some of King’s tactics and particularly his desire to gut financial support for services for poor folks, I can’t fault King for his targets given what was revealed then and subsequently.