Unsealed

This past Friday afternoon (the Friday before Labor Day), Judge Time Brooks unsealed over 500 pages of documents in the public corruption case of Jon Woods.

Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times has published an article breaking down some of those documents. Some of their main takeaways from just one of the documents unsealed:

– Lobbyists Ted and Julie Mullenix allegedly paid for the rehearsal dinner for Jon Woods wedding.

– Vote trading to ensure passage of the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion program, then called the Private Option, and renamed Arkansas Works.

– Communications detailing Jon Woods statements that no one should cooperate with the FBI’s investigation

– Discussion of Travis Story’s appointment to the medical marijuana commission. Travis Story is a law partner with State Representative Bob Ballinger. Story represents Ecclesia College.

– Discussion of the rules change allowing the speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives to select all committee chairs and members.

Conduit News has taken a preliminary look at this document, which includes text messages between Micah Neal’s attorney Shane Wilkinson and FBI investigator Robert Cessario. We had the following takeaways:

1. Lots of text communications about Patsy Wooten.

Patsy is the mother of State Representative Jana Della Rosa and executive director of Conservative Arkansas. At one point a text mentions how Patsy was helping Jon Woods during the investigation and speculation about her possibly being charged in connection to the Jon Woods kickback/bribery scheme.

Discussion about Jon Woods and Patsy “going on drives and getting away from phones and building because they believe the house is bugged.”

On Patsy Wooten “. . . She was in the room when Jon talked and clearly knew all.” “That’s the only place John (sic) take to him, her house. If John (sic) needs to talk its understood that is where.”

Discussion about coordination and mailers between Conservative Arkansas and Jon Woods to help Woods get elected.

Jon Woods and Randal [Shelton] meeting at Patsy’s but not talking in front of her. “Patsy said Oren told her that FBI has subpoenaed all kinds of things but there is nothing there. She [sic] Jon has talked with Randel at her house they went outside to talk not in front of her… She told me not to talk to them but get an attorney… She can’t believe they haven’t talked with her since they are best friends and he’s always there… she jokingly said let me know if I need to knock them in the head for your… she followed that up with I’m a typical Grandma… She said they went and talked to Binca [Patrick Becca, attorney for Jon Woods] and he said he hasn’t heard a word… His source in the US Attorneys office has been quiet… Jon asked Binca if he thought they would indict Jon and Binca told him they could indict a ham sandwich.”

“Talked with Patsy in Big Mac today… she said they continue to subpoena Ecclesia and people there… She said Randel’s attorney said she know how the FBI numbers things in a case and the supboena they had was #105 and thats just in NWA … [REDACTED].”

Context: Big Mac is a building at the Arkansas capitol where legislative committee meetings are held without video streaming.

Use of Patsy as a bargaining chip?

“They may or may not want to use Patsy as a bargaining chip with Jon… Jon claims she is his best friend. If they got to him and say they are going to charge Patsy unless he cooperates, I think he will… he won’t want anything to happen to her… it’s just my opinion… they have her on tape…

Immediately after this text exchange are two redacted messages then followed by “This is a text from Bob Ballinger who is a state rep, but is also part of Travis Story’s law firm who represents Oren Paris.” This seems to show Ballinger very involved in the legal representation of Ecclesia College and Oren Paris after Ballinger directed taxpayer GIF money to the College.

2. Nate Bell Mentioned.

“Nate Bell just talked to me and said there is an ongoing FBI investigation about this one that we were here discussing today. He said the Governor targeted this money for a specific reason… I got the feeling the FBI has talked with him…”

Nate Bell was scheduled to testify at the Jon Woods trial. However, he was never called after discussion about his plans to issue a press release and/or hold a press conference ahead of his testimony.

3. Procurement process: Jon Woods and Senator Bill Sample.

“There was a special language meeting today that busted up a monopoly that behavioral health had where they had a monopoly and went around the procurement process… I wasn’t there, but thought I’d get the details from Kevin Anderson… Woods voted against getting rid of it as well as Senator Sample…  I was told Senator Sample was vigorous in fighting against changing the process… It was about a $8 million deal.

4. Bargaining Chip, Private Option?

“From Micah… Tell Kenny that just because the law Jon passed didn’t get funded, it wasn’t a big deal. He was running for another term and eventually the powers that be would need his vote and that would be his bargaining chip just like the private option and the money he got for behavioral health.

This seems to show a recorded pattern of deal making to ensure the passage of the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion program, previously called the Private Option and renamed Arkansas Works.

5. Implicating Chris Zimmerman for fraudulent campaign work?

“Can you ask Micah if he knows of any campaign events by woods where he was soliciting funds in the 2012 general election. I don’t know the dates… if I were them, I’d subpoena all work done by Chris Zimmerman for Jon Wood’s… he did all the invitations for Jon. Chris is in Russellville.”

Zimmerman has done campaign work for candidates like Woods, including work for John Burris’ unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2014 against Scott Flippo.

6. What’s Next?

With over 500 pages unsealed, there is likely more to develop from this document dump. Conduit News will be working on sorting through the documents for other relevant information.

Jon Wood’s sentencing hearing will be Wednesday, September 5 at 9:00 a.m.

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