Bribes or loans?

Former Senator Jon Woods (Springdale) is accused of taking bribes in return for directing General Improvement grants to Ecclesia College. According to the Democrat-Gazette, “Defense attorneys have said the money transfers to and from Woods were loans and money to pay back loans.[i] If so, he never reported the loans on his state ethics report.

Unreported loans are violations of Arkansas ethics law. But, if Woods beats the felony bribery charge he won’t have to worry about state penalties for failing to report the supposed loans.

Woods successfully amended the ethics law to say a public official can’t be sanctioned if he corrects his ethics report within thirty days after discovering the error.

The times for correcting the report from years ago probably hasn’t started ticking yet.  Although he is claiming the payments as loans, he may not yet be “aware” that he didn’t report them on his ethics report.

Such is the state of Arkansas’ ethics law.