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UCA's Baker to register as lobbyist

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published February 11, 2013 at 12:11 p.m.

file-the-co-chairmen-of-the-joint-budget-committee-state-rep-kathy-webb-and-state-sen-gilbert-baker-announce-that-a-compromise-has-been-worked-out-on-the-state-tax-cuts-in-this-march-17-2011-file-photo

FILE - The co-chairmen of the Joint Budget Committee, state Rep. Kathy Webb and state Sen. Gilbert Baker announce that a compromise has been worked out on the state tax cuts in this March 17, 2011 file photo.

A former state senator hired as an executive assistant to the University of Central Arkansas president will register as a lobbyist despite earlier saying he was not planning to do so.

UCA President Tom Courtway said in a statement that Gilbert Baker would register as a lobbyist "out of an abundance of caution."

"As I have stated previously, I do not intend for him to engage in day-to-day lobbying for UCA or on higher education matters," Courtway said in the statement. "However, given that he served for twelve years in the Arkansas State Senate, and is sought out from time-to-time to discuss legislative or budget matters with members, I do not want there to be a perception or concern on the part of any person that we are attempting to circumvent the registration requirement."

Baker, who is a former chairman of the state Republican party, was reported to start his role at UCA on Jan. 15, a day after his term-limited legislative career ended.

A news release issued last year announcing the hiring said his work would include special projects, communications, community outreach and government relations.

In a Nov. 10, 2012, story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Baker said he would not register as a lobbyist.

“I will not be lobbying for the university,” he said then. “We’ve decided it’s best for me to have a cooling-off period, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

In the statement Monday, Courtway said UCA had decided to have Baker register out of caution and because Baker provides advice to Courtway and UCA officials on legislative matters.

"For these reasons, he will register," Courtway said. "His focus and efforts will continue to be community and external affairs, and development efforts for UCA."

Baker was a music professor at UCA before his first election to the Senate in 2000.

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