Republican 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.
Neal 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.
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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