Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker has resigned from his position at the University of Central Arkansas, the university said in a one-line statement Wednesday.
The resignation comes on the same day the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that a former paid political consultant to Baker said he didn't know anything about a series of political action committees tied to the investigation of Circuit Judge Michael Maggio.
Two of the committees list Don Thomas of Conway as an officer and one is named Thomas Group In PAC, the newspaper reported.
Baker told the newspaper it was a coincidence that The Thomas Group office was across from Baker's longtime office in Conway.
Maggio is being investigated by the the Arkansas Ethics Commission and the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission over contributions made to the committees from a nursing-home owner shortly before Maggio reduced a multimillion-dollar judgment against one of his nursing homes.
Last week, the nursing home owner, Michael Morton, told the Democrat-Gazette that a woman who worked with Baker was the one who asked him to support Maggio's campaign for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, a race he has since quit.
Baker told the newspaper he hired the woman to work for a political consulting company he started but that he was unaware of the conversation about the contributions.
“I did not tell her to do that or instruct her to do that,” Baker told the newspaper.
The statement from UCA did not list a reason for why Baker resigned, and a university spokesman said she could not comment further. Spokesman Fredricka Sharkey directed questions about the reason for the resignation to UCA President Tom Courtway, who she said is traveling and unavailable for comment.
Sharkey said she did not know how Baker resigned. A Freedom of Information request seeking a resignation letter was not immediately fulfilled by the university Wednesday morning.
Baker was hired in 2012 as an executive assistant to the president shortly after leaving office. He made $132,000 a year.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this breaking story.