LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Republican leaders are upset about a lack of representation in the formation and oversight of the Arkansas lottery.
The Lottery Oversight Committee, composed of six House members and six Senate members, contains one Republican.
The remaining members of the commission, picked by Gov. Mike Beebe, House Speaker Robbie Wills and Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Johnson are also Democrats or have Democratic ties.
While Republicans concede that the party in power usually makes selections along party lines, they would have liked to see more parity, they said.
"When people saw the way they were setting up the lottery system for the benefit of the good old boys, they said stop," said State Rep. Brian King, R-Green Forest, the House minority leader. "The people on the commission weren't going to do anything to stop it.
"To me, that's like someone robbing your house and a cop's outside watching, telling you he's concerned about the rise in crime."
But the lone Republican involved in the lottery commission sees no problem with the way things are set up.
"I think the Senate president wanted members who'd been involved in drafting the bill and refining the bill," said state Sen. John Key, R-Mountain Home. "I don't really thing there was anything partisan about it."
Key even jokes about the choices, noting that as a state, Arkansas has more Democrats than Republicans.
"Sen. Shawn Womack (R-Mountain Home), my predecessor, used to say a committee of eight Democrats to one Republican was even," Key said.
Matt DeCample, spokesman for governor Mike Beebe, said the governor wasn't involved in the decision making on who served on the committees.
"That was the speaker of the house and senate president," DeCample said. "Our people were involved in an ad hoc manner, looking at qualifications for scholarships, since the money is going to higher ed."
King said Beebe has paid little more than lip service about the lottery.
"On one hand, Beebe acts like he has all this experience in state government and that's why he should be governor," King said. "But let a problem come up and he runs from it faster than Jessie Owens."
Local state Rep. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, is no happier than King about the lack of bipartisanship on the lottery commission.
"I would have liked to have seen more Republicans and independents appointed to the commission so more checks and balances are brought to the table," Woods said.
Checks and balances is a term used frequently by Republicans these days.
"At least when Huckabee was governor there were some checks and balances in place (because of the number of Democrats in office,)" King said. "But no Democrat will buck Beebe.
"They'll leave the room grumbling. They'll talk big. But they won't vote against him. It's all a dog and pony show. The old Democratic machine is entrenched again."
King is even more emphatic in his overall assessment of the situation.
"This hasn't been setting up an Arkansas lottery," King said. "This has been the fleecing of the Arkansas lottery."
Lottery Oversight Committee
Chairman: Sen. David Johnson, D-Little Rock
Chairman: Rep. Barry Hyde, D-North Little Rock
- Sen. Terry Smith, D-Hot Springs
- Sen. Tracy Steele, D-North Little Rock
- Sen. Mary Anne Salmon, D-North Little Rock
- Sen. Robert Thompson, D-Paragould
- Sen. Johnny Key, R-Mountain Home
- Rep. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia
- Rep. Robbie Wills, D-Conway
- Rep. Johnnie Roebuck, D-Arkadelphia
- Rep. Linda Tyler, D-Conway
- Rep. Darrin Williams, D-Little Rock.