Arkansas Rep. Micah Neal Pleads Guilty To Bribery and Kickback Scheme Involving Evangelical College

image-aspxRepublican Arkansas Rep. Micah Neal has pleaded guilty to a shocking bribery and kickback scheme involving Arkansas evangelical Ecclesia College, a tiny Bible college in Springdale. Neal is facing up to 20 years for taking $38,000 in bribes. The father of two ran on his credentials as a pro-life, conservative leader.

jon_senate-1Neal stated that a state senator was involved the kickback scheme. According to local media, that state senator appears to be Sen. Jon Woods (right). Neal admits that he ultimately received a total of $38,000 in cash kickbacks for guiding $200,000 to a college and $150,000 to a nonprofit agency. That college has been identified as Ecclesia College. The college has received almost $600,000 from the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District. The non-for-profit organization has been rumored to be Decision Point, a behavioral health organization that received $400,000 from the Development District.

The press release of the Department of Justice would indicate that new indictments will be forthcoming:

“As part of his guilty plea, Neal admitted that, between January 2013 and January 2015, while serving in the Arkansas House of Representatives, he conspired with an Arkansas state senator to use their official positions to appropriate government money known as General Improvement Funds (GIF) to a pair of non-profit entities in exchange for bribes . . . Of the $600,000, Neal personally authorized and directed a total of $175,000 to the entities. In return for his official actions, Neal received approximately $38,000 in bribes from officials at those non-profit entities.”

Ecclesia School president Dr. Oren Paris III insisted that he and the school are innocent: “I can unequivocally state that neither I nor Ecclesia College have been party to illegal activity. We have never been a party to any agreements to funnel money to any state legislator.” It would certainly be a conflict with a school that professes on its website that:

In the first chapter of Second Peter, faith is listed as our foremost priority. Then come godly character and knowledge. In the kingdom of God the whole person is educated, not just the mind.

God’s scriptural directive for acquiring knowledge never changes. And the pivotal years you spend in college can either bring you closer to Him or farther away. Here at Ecclesia College, Christ is paramount. When you attend EC, on campus or online, your education will be centered on Him!

Our goal is to produce leaders who have the authentic character that comes only from genuine, organic life in Christ. With this in mind, we have designed your entire first year to nurture and cultivate your faith in ways that are both deep and practical.

. . .

Your time at EC is designed to enrich you with a head full of knowledge, but also with a heart full of faith, and a life marked by good character. And when you graduate, not only will you be well-equipped for your profession, you will also be salt and light to everyone around you, because you value God and His eternal values over the things of this world!

Here is the indictment: Neal Indictment

72 thoughts on “Arkansas Rep. Micah Neal Pleads Guilty To Bribery and Kickback Scheme Involving Evangelical College

      • You are funny. Really. Corn flakes? Nah. No self-respecting person who dislikes Trump would EVER consider eating corn flakes. We all eat granola (with yogurt), sip lattes, and get pedicures while our illegal immigrant gardeners trim our hedges. Please don’t insult me by accusing me of eating corn flakes.

    • Give Trump a chance. I keep seeing all these planned protests during his inauguration and full page ads taken out in the NYT against him. Give him a chance. He’s not perfect. But he won and I believe he will do right for America (more so than Hillary ever would have). I will support him and I will be the first to criticize him and call him out when he strays off course. But for now, I am fully behind our new president Trump. It’s called giving him the benefit of the doubt that he is entitled to. Viva Presidente Trump!

      • Sure, let’s give Trump the benefit of the doubt. Just like Trump gave the benefit of the doubt to US intelligence agencies. There are good reasons why US citizens doubt the CIA and FBI, based on their prior conduct. And there are good reasons for criticizing Trump, based on his current and prior conduct. His behavior is (and was) appalling. His tweeting is usually counterproductive to the interests of this country. Most importantly, Trump has always been about Trump and his family. No one else. His past actions support the conclusion that his future actions will be motivated by what he thinks is good for Trump, not by what he thinks is good for the country.

        I hope I’m wrong about that, and that things go well, like when a drunk walks a straight line in an earthquake. But all of my instincts tell me we are headed to hell in a hand basket under trump. Trump hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt. He can be trusted to do only one thing, to look after his own interests.

        Particularly Since we’re probably headed to hell in a hand basket, I’m not going to bite my tongue.

        And no, I’m not a fan of Hillary either.

        • You said, “Most importantly, Trump has always been about Trump and his family. No one else. His past actions support the conclusion that his future actions will be motivated by what he thinks is good for Trump, not by what he thinks is good for the country.”

          The country will survive – in fact I’ll use your own words and put Obama’s name in there — we survived 8 years of Obama who has “always been about Obama No one else.” In fact Obama’s “actions support the conclusion that his future actions will be motivated by what he thinks is good for Obama, not by what he thinks is good for the country.” Obama has proven it. It was always all about him. That’s why he doesn’t give a flying f*ck that his party has been flattened by him. He did just fine, his party went by by. Does he give a hoot? Oh hell no. He just partied till 4 am at their last private celebrity filled White House bash as if nothing happened here in this election that he is accountable for. What a sad sad joke the Democrats are under Obama. The can kiss his a** as he moves out of the White House for all he cares. So sad to see the reality that the sycophantic Democrats are still in such denial about.

          • Obama has plenty of faults. But he’s not anywhere close to Trump’s league when it comes to narcissism and a desire to look after his own interests at the expense of everyone else. You saying otherwise doesn’t make it so.

            The country may survive. Sure. But it will have a much better chance of surviving if Trump is not at the helm. I think there is a decent chance that Republicans will push Trump out before the end of his first term. One possible scenario is that he resigns due to “health problems” if it comes to light that his desire to be best buds with Putin is motivated by Trump’s own business interests. Trump’s tax returns might shed some light on that. Trump’s apparent desire to “restructure” US intelligence agencies could be motivated in part due to Trump’s desire to avoid having them to focus on how his actions as President will be benefitting Trump personally.

            So do you think that Trump’s tweets about Arnold’s low ratings and his tweets criticizing Boeing are motivated by what Trump thinks is good for the country?

            • I think that once Trump has cleared his many international projects as President-elect, he will go through the inauguration and shortly thereafter, resign to tend to his businesses. Then we will have anti-woman, anti-gay Pence. Misogynist, homophobic white men (and women) will rejoice. We may find that Trump wasn’t so bad after all.

            • Obama is in his own league in the narcissism department. The thumping the Democrats took under Obama and his backstabbing of Israel plus all his other last minute “legacy-padding” proves his self-interest – at the expense of the country and everyone but himself.

              How is it a bad thing that Trump is possibly taking on cleaning house and restructuring intelligence agencies? The media kept repeating the line that “all 17 of our intelligence agencies” said blah blah blah… and the first question in my mind was why do we have so many intelligence agencies? Then it turns out there were only 3 that reported on the Russian hacking investigation and the report was laughable.

              Trump’s tweets about Boeing was putting them and other government contractors on notice that the gravy train is no more. Tweeting about Arnold is a marketing/ratings ploy. The media is not Trump’s friend like they have been to Obama, and while O got an 8-year love-fest, the media is now in a Trump-hysteria feeding-frenzy. So Trump trolls and manipulates the media with his twitter, and good for him. Will it all end well? We’ll see, but my money is on Trump pulling it off.

        • If he was all about himself and his country, why would he even run? It was a considerable sacrifice, which involved being the victim of a lot of the ad hominem abuse you are spewing. He could have just retired and made even more money running golf courses.

        • Just like Trump gave the benefit of the doubt to US intelligence agencies. [/snark]

          Why should Trump give any benefit of the doubt to US intelligence agencies? Let me count the ways:

          1) Because of their stellar performance in telling us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq??

          2) Because one of them found HIllary not guilty of any serious crimes when the opposite was so obviously more accurate?

          3) Then because just days before the election that same agency head put Hillary under the microscope with insinuations?

          4) Because these intelligence agencies are ratcheting up a very dangerous cold war with Russia by these reports that are utterly void of any evidentiary information with the usual excuse that we just have to trust them? LIke Iraq?

          5) Because telling the TRUTH about a corrupt candidate and how she and her party fixed the nomination process against her challenger (Sanders) will destroy US Democracy?

          • Thought that was Cheney’s operation in Iraq that gave the false info on the WMDS. These republicans have a cool thing going on with the Russians in their minds. Now there is some evidence that the Russians messed with the dem primaries for congress. The Trumpkins and the their Russian allies absolutely hate the democrats and for a democrat to win from now it will be necessary to fight the Trump republicans and the Russians.

            • Sorry, but your comment exemplifies the problem of tribalism, not solves it. The CIA is very much tied up with the White House regardless of which party is in residence. It is perfectly clear to anyone that is not blinded by tribal loyalties that the CIA has historically been easily manipulated to do the bidding of the “current” administration when ever the current administration is not doing the bidding of the CIA, be it Republicans that want a fictitious excuse to go to war with Iraq or Democrats that want to put the blame for their own corruption and abject defeat on a foreign country that they assume everyone has been potty trained to hate without question.

              Hence the question as to why Trump should give any credence to the CIA (or to any of the intelligence agencies) unless they are willing to share compelling proof with real evidence and detail. Is such suicidal gullibility a required badge of patriotism in a President Elect or something?

              Granted, Trump may be doing so purely to protect himself, but where is the evidence? You know, the same sort of evidence Hillary supporters would like to see, and the DNC wants to hide by blaming Russia (snort, for telling the TRUTH 🙂 ), when she is accused of such things as illegally fixing the primary in her favor.

  1. Can you tell me how I can find a list of senators and congress people and their respective list of violations regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, and other offenses collectively? This post is a good example of what I am talking about and I ask you how I can find such a list because I am working on presenting legislation that would require more rigorous background checks for all of our elected officials, including that of the presidency. It is my believe that our elected officials should be put up to the same rigor as teachers and medical practitioners. Thank you.

  2. I like Darren’s comment above. The name Micah is odd. Is it some bible name? American Indian name? The last name Neal seems Irish. So maybe Micah is Irish. Well, I can think of that scene in Blazing Saddles when the town leader let the Freedmen into town but then said: But not the Irish!
    I guess they went to Arkansas.

      • I am glad to be “here” on the blog. But I live on Cloud 9. I am not an “angel”. I am what they call a “neutral” and went to neither heaven nor hell and not in a handbasket. From Cloud 9 we can see down on Earth and have access to microsoft and other devices. All emails come up to the clouds, particularly this one, and thence back to you all. The guy I am famous for shooting is not up here -thank Dog- and is over on Cloud 8.

  3. We need to put the fear of God in our politicians if they accept kickbacks, bribes, pay to play, or otherwise abuse the public funds or trust.

    It is especially disappointing that a church was involved.

    I was wondering if anyone can shed some more clarity on what happened. Why did Senator Woods want the money to go to the church and that charity? Was he involved in running both, so he benefitted financially? Were they run by pals of his so it was cronyism? What was worth ruining both of their careers and possibly going to jail over?

    It is so sad when people in positions of authority break the public trust.

    What I do not understand is how is this different from paying Bill Clinton a boatload of money for a speech and making a hefty donation to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for getting beneficial treatment at State as well as jobs for donors? Like when foreign governments got around the campaign contribution restrictions by donating to Bill and/or the Clinton Foundation. Anyone notice how the price of Bill Clinton’s speeches went way up when his wife became SOS and then again when she ran for President? Why was that? How did they get away with all the pay to play?

    • “We need to put the fear of God in our politicians if they accept kickbacks, bribes, pay to play, or otherwise abuse the public funds or trust” How? By putting Hillary Clinton into the White House it would have GUARANTEED that would not happen. The Clinton’s are the poster children for corruption. Why does anyone doubt Trump is the one to do this? It’s so obvious.

    • Karen,

      The decision on which politicians to investigate, and which ones to prosecute, is in itself political. Nobody in D.C., at least, believed for a second that Obama’s Justice Dept would ever indict Hillary. That’s just one example. Obama’s land deal when he was a State Senator looked highly questionable, but Chicago politicians who are in favor with the people making prosecutorial decisions are untouchable. On the other hand, Blagoyavich was not part of the Ivy League crowd of Obama’s cronies. He was from a blue-collar, Serbian immigrant family who went to average colleges. He was considered uncouth and rough around the edges and the elite politicians laughed at him. So when he tried to broker Obama’s vacant senate seat for political favors, he was sent to federal prison for 16 long years. Not that what he did was okay, but it was no worse than other politicians whose wheeling and dealing is ignored. So politics is a rough game and unless the guy has the right connections, he should keep his nose clean.

      • I agree that justice is the Beltway is partisan. I wish the scales of justice weighed everyone equally, blind to politics and favors.

        Representing the American people is a great responsibility, from the local office to federal positions of trust.

        We will not get an honest politician until we demand all are held to equal scrutiny, with equal consequences, regardless of how it affects our own political affiliation. Until then, we will get the politicians that we enable, while uselessly blaming the other side.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth!
      Where in the world did all the politicians think it’s ok while on the govt. payroll to ‘pay for play’?
      It took me along time to figure out we are the same as all the banana republics.

    • Your comment as I understand it, implies that in this case,

      1) We need more facts (we can’t make judgements at this point )

      2) Assuming the individual in question is guilty of corruption, it is simply a random case – nothing to do with his/her party or no way to determine that

      3) We should test everyone: implicitly supporting point (2), precursor to number (4)

      4) The ubiquitous, “The other side does it too,” cake and eat it gambit even managing to get in -as example- the ultimate nostril flaring red cape waving Bill Clinton. Cake and eat it too since you get a slam on the Dems by presenting one of the most dubious as their standard bearer while generally implying that all corruption where the alleged criminal is Republican has nothing to do with party.

      Oddly enough, I agree with some of your points with reservations about this background testing idea (who does the testing and how susceptible is his/her/their wallet(s) to being stuffed with abundant green US currency type advice?).

      And, obviously, a general disagreement with tribal allegiance. Had you mentioned Bush II or some such along side of Clinton, or used a less button pushing example, my argument might have been considerably weaker.

      I suspect, and I could be wrong, both parties have been refashioned over the last forty years to encourage corruption as that provides the best way for the elites to control them. However, at the individual level, what really matters is not whether one is a Dem or Repub, but rather how exposed one is to the influence of corporations and financial institutions and foreign countries. Lobbying, campaign donations, the particular groups and committees one joins, and so on.

      .

  4. Apparently Congress members come cheap. Imagine he gave up his career, his reputation, his liberty and the rest for $38,000.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. I would imagine that the thought it was chump change compared to some of his peers. There is no excuse for taking bribes as a public official. Risking everything for such a little amount of money proves the culture of corruption in our government. “Everyone else does it, it’s is nothing.”

      Does politics corrupt people or do corrupt people gravitate to politics?

    • He’s a state legislator, not a member of Congress.

      The quondam Speaker of the New York State Assembly is currently in prison. Prof. Turley seems never to have noticed.

    • In my cynical view, the evangelical movement holds that you can be as corrupt and greedy and sinful as you want, so long as you confess and get absolved.

      • In my non-cynical view, you’re an opinionated blowhard who cannot tell the difference between evangelicalism and a ba****dized conception of Catholicism.

  5. Both are graduates of the Sam Walton College of Business, which is just up the hill from the Bud Walton Arena, which was funded by Sam’s brother. They’re both a stone’s throw away from the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace on the campus of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, my alma mater.

    “Keeping WalMart and Tyson Foods competitive in the 21st Century.”

    Just kidding, although I think Don Tyson was still on the first chapter of the first book he ever picked up when he passed away in 2011.

  6. Humans are sinners, so corruption is inevitable.
    Rules are either flouted or gamed.

    1. Reduce the size and spending of government
    2. Limit its regulatory control
    3. Opportunities for corruption and graft are thereby smaller and have less impact.

    Just like the Founders intended.

    • Logical fallacy. You correctly state that humans are corruptible. You then incorrectly assume that government has some special difference in terms of corruptibility from those entities it “regulates” – generally, business, banks, financial institutions, interest groups, the public and so on.

      If you insist that corruptibility is transmitted to government by the agent of being composed of humans, then you must also admit to an identical transmission of corruption to business and finance and justice and infrastructure and the public themselves which are all also made up of corruptible humans. Since all these institutions, including the public, are made up of corruption, poor sinners, it only stands to reason they need MORE regulation, not less.

      🙂 This is playful. If bureaucratic bloat is what you are talking about, I generally agree. If you are suggesting that the so called market of Capitalism does better with little to no regulation, I think history resoundingly proves you wrong; the market without regulation is rather an explosion and exponentiation of the corruption you correctly attribute to the humans that make it up.

      Perhaps there would be some common ground with something like, “fewer but more comprehensive regulations?”

    • The difficulty here is the proliferation of discretionary grant programs for corporate bodies. The quantum of money elected officials and their agents in the executive should have to distribute in this fashion is $0.

    • How does it follow that, if there is less government and less regulation, there will be less corruption? If there are fewer guards at the henhouse, what will restrain the foxes?

  7. “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”
    – Dave Barry, American Journalist.

    “Show me a law, and I’ll show you there’s ALWAYS a way to break it, bend it, or twist it into a pretzel”
    – SkaterDude.

  8. Treachery? Disloyalty? Hero U.S. Senator? What say you, JT?

    Rather than accuse other Americans, including Mr. Trump, of engaging in potentially treasonous activities, perhaps Mr. McCain should recall the charges made by several U.S. prisoners-of-war about his «singing» to his North Vietnamese captors after his plane was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967. McCain, according to some fellow POWs who later spoke out, gladly gave his captors about six months’ worth of U.S. Navy operational plans for the bombing of North Vietnam and Laos. McCain’s psychosis about Russia reportedly could stem from his time at the «Hanoi Hilton» POW prison. McCain was given the Russian KGB code name «Jack Mouse» and, per Chan Chong Duet, the commander of the prison, the downed Navy pilot and son of the U.S. Pacific Forces Commander, Admiral John McCain, Jr., was quite free with the information he passed to North Vietnamese, Cuban, and Soviet officers while being treated for his wounds by Soviet doctors. If McCain wants to question the loyalty of any American, he should look into a mirror. He should also seek out psychiatric assistance.

    http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/01/06/mccain-largely-unreported-treachery-against-us.html

    • Were these other prisoners in the room when McCain was interrogated? I doubt it. And North Vietnamese authorities had every reason to slander and make accusations, so as to sow discord among American naval staff.

      But whether these stories are true or not, it does not justify Trump’s coziness with the Russians.
      They are still our strategic adversaries.

      But I agree that we should hear Turley’s take on all this.

      • JAy S

        And McCain had every reason to betray his own country. MIA relatives hate him. His daddy helped cover up the ISRAELI attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. Do you deny or just try to rationalize historical events that you wish weren’t so — or is your attempt to explain away the McCains’ treason merely a one-off??

  9. Corruption is corruption. Playing with tax dollars and taking advantage of the people. There are so many bigger corrupt fish in the sea. And they all deserve justice.

  10. He seems to have collected a much higher percentage (10.8%) as kickback of the money he funneled, than is usual in these public corruption cases. In most cases I’m surprised at how low (~1%) the ratio is.

    I don’t see any pattern of liberal/conservative or religious/agnostic in the sad stream of similar cases.

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