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Wednesday, October 01, 2014, 3:30 p.m.
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Baker resigns from UCA post

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 2, 2014 at 9:39 a.m. Updated April 2, 2014 at 10:10 a.m.

state-sen-gilbert-baker-r-conway-seen-in-this-2011-file-photo

State Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, seen in this 2011 file photo.

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.

Comments on: Baker resigns from UCA post

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 total comments

TheBatt says... April 2, 2014 at 11:31 a.m.

I have known Mr. Baker for over 27 years. I can honestly say that in my personal experience, I have never known him to be dishonest or to take an immoral course of action. So, what this resignation could be - who knows?

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Packman says... April 2, 2014 at 2:40 p.m.

Baker did the right thing. If it walks like duck and quacks...... Too much smoke here not to be some fire. At best someone was running wild with operation of these PAC's and Baker's fingerprints were found at the scene.

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TomHoneycutt says... April 2, 2014 at 3:29 p.m.

I'm not sure President Courtway is getting sufficient bang for his buck from his public relations aide.
"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."
Back in the day, that strategy worked to deflect a questions. But don't tell me they don't issue cellular telephones at UCA.

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