Friday, October 3, 2008

Follow up on Baker’s Press Conference

Conway newspaper The Cabin has an article today on Sen. Gilbert Baker’s press conference that he called yesterday to respond to his opponent’s political attack, as "The Tolbert Report" discussed yesterday. The attack was in the form of a mailer that questioned Sen. Baker’s funding for UCA and implied that Sen. Baker received favors in exchange.

Baker took these allegations to task one by one. First, the mailer states “Senator Baker’s son, a UCA Student, received special treatment for his university housing.” Baker said that his son and daughter-in-law both earned full scholarships which include housing and that they followed the standard application procedures for married student housing. Second, the mailer states “Senator Gilbert Baker used public property belonging to UCA for a campaign fund raiser, paying for it six weeks later with an undated check.” Baker stated that this allegation involves a tent that he rented from UCA and feels that this was proper. Finally, the mailer states “Senator Baker has been the beneficiary of gifts and favors paid for from Former UCA President Lu Hardin’s public expense fund.” Baker responded that the only gift he has received from Hardin was a flower arrangement after the death of this father-in-law.

Baker concluded that he is proud of the funding he has been able to direct to UCA as well as the additional $20 million he has directed to other local schools and organizations. As for the charge of the attack being “illegal” this had to do with the fact that the mailer did not identify that it was paid for by the Joe White Campaign. White claims that this was an oversight and should have been included.

It will be interesting to see how this exchange will affect this race. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that UCA has grown into a great institution and the funded Baker directed has an obvious positive impact on the community. So, unless there is some sort of local anti-UCA movement that I do not know about, this seems like a net win for Baker.

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