Charity begins at home

Charity begins at home

Sen.

Tracy Steele's name pops up (second item) for a coy response on whether he'll attempt to shift to the House in 2010 when he's term limited in his Senate seat. He's not saying, though many expect him to run for the seat now held by the sole Green Party representative, Richard Carroll. (Carroll was recently denied membership in the Black Legislative Caucus, of which Steele is a member, on account of his skin color. Carroll is white.) It wouldn't surprise me if Steele runs. The seat is good leverage for one of his outside jobs Actually, two, if you count the newspaper Steele publishes. He's not alone in seeking the various state agency ad placements available for print, of course, but, as a legislator, he carries a bit more clout with state employees than, say, the publisher of the Democrat-Gazette or Arkansas Times. for us about Steele's work to set up the Stand Foundation, a non-profit with the announced aim of providing leadership training for young adults. Some have viewed it uncharitably -- as a way to obtain contributions from major corporations with business before the legislature and, thus, to produce income for Senator Steele. Lobbyists have told the Times about receiving fund solicitations from Steele while the legislature was in session. Absent the Foundation opening its records, which is not required under FOI laws, it's impossible to say how much, if any, money has been contributed by firms or people with legislative interests. The most recent return on file covers calendar 2007. It was filed last August. The major single expenditure by Stand Foundation in 2007 Steele's compensation of $50,346. In other words, about 44 percent of the money the Foundation raised in 2007 was spent on the senator, more than was spent on leadership training. Thus the headline. I've sent the senator several questions. I hope he responds, but since we began inquiring about the Stand Foundation's finances. He's described me as a "hater" in a signed column in his newspaper. But I've told him I'll print any response he sends in full. I also asked for a list of his Foundation contributors and a report on 2008. I'd be happy to publish those, too.

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