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Ex-deputy chief of staff for Hutchinson asks to rescind registration as a lobbyist

Made mistake by signing up too soon, says recently resigned governor’s aide by Michael R. Wickline | September 7, 2022 at 4:20 a.m.

Bill Gossage, the former deputy chief of staff for external operations for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said Tuesday he has asked the secretary of state's office to rescind his registration last month as a registered lobbyist.

Gossage is vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

Act 486 of 2013 -- sponsored by then-state Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock -- bars an individual employed in the office of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor or commissioner of state lands from being eligible to be registered as a lobbyist until one year after the expiration of the individual's employment in that office.

Gossage registered as a lobbyist with the secretary of state's office Aug. 25 to represent the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, according to the secretary of state's website. Gossage's resignation from the governor's office was effective Aug. 12, Hutchinson's spokeswoman said last month.

"It's 100 percent my fault," Gossage said Tuesday in a written statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after the paper questioned his registration as a lobbyist in light of Act 486 of 2013. "I made a mistake."

In addition, Gossage said to the best of his knowledge he has not spent $400 or more on lobbying activities.

According to the Arkansas Ethics Commission's website, lobbyists are subject to registration and reporting if a person receives income or reimbursement in a combined amount of $400 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities; expends $400 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities, excluding the cost of personal travel, lodging, meals or dues; or expends $400 or more in a calendar quarter, including postage, for the express purpose of soliciting others to communicate with any public servant to influence any legislative action or administrative action of one or more government bodies unless the communication has been filed with the secretary of state or has been published in the news media.

The secretary of state's office plans to remove Gossage's name as a registered lobbyist from its website today, said Kevin Niehaus, a spokesman for Republican Secretary of State John Thurston.

At the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, Gossage replaced Kirkley Thomas, who retired Aug. 1 after more than 24 years of service with the cooperatives.

Gossage served about six years as the governor's deputy chief of staff for external operations. He previously served in the state House of Representatives from 2013 until August 2016 and retired as assistant superintendent of the Ozark School District with 34 years of experience as an educator.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative, according to the electric cooperatives. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 600,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

Print Headline: Gossage rescinds lobbyist registration

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