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Ouachita Baptist University vice president appointed to Arkansas Ethics Commission

by Michael R. Wickline | March 17, 2023 at 2:18 p.m.
The Arkansas flag is shown in this file photo.

A vice president at Ouachita Baptist University has been appointed to the Arkansas Ethics Commission by Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs.

Hester appointed Jason Tolbert of Arkadelphia to fill the commission post of Lori Klein of Searcy, whose five-year term has expired, Hester wrote in a letter to Tolbert dated March 6. Hester said Tolbert’s five-year term on the commission will expire March 6, 2028.

The Ethics Commission was established in 1991 with the passage of the Initiated Act of 1990. It enforces certain state laws on ethics, conflicts of interest, lobbying, campaigning, campaign finance and ballot questions.

The other ethics commissioners include attorney Scott Irby of Little Rock, attorney Wendy Johnson of Springdale, dentist John Pitts of Little Rock, and banker Miguel Lopez of Little Rock.

Hester said Friday that “My goal was to appoint someone that would up show up to meetings and do the work.

“Jason Tolbert has a long reputation understanding state government, of being reasonable, fair and firm,” Hester said in a written statement. “I know Jason will add value to any organization he is part of, and I am grateful he is willing to serve the state in this capacity.”

Tolbert said Friday in a written statement that he’s grateful to Hester for appointing him to this post.

“I have always been fascinated by the political process especially at the state and local level, so I find the work of the Ethics Commission both interesting and important,” he said.

“Elections work best when voters are well informed about the candidates running for office and the issues they are voting on, including understanding how these campaigns are funded,” Tolbert said. “I am looking forward to serving on the Ethics Commission whose mission serves an important role in this process. I hope my background as a Certified Public Accountant proves useful in this role.”

In a settlement of an ethics complaint filed by Tolbert, former Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, agreed in April of 2014 to pay a $4,000 fine to the Arkansas Ethics Commission for four violations of state ethics laws during the 2010 election. Among other things, Bookout agreed with the commission’s finding that he used a significant portion of his 2010 campaign funds and carryover funds to make expenditures for items not related to his campaign or office as a state senator.

In a settlement of an ethics complaint filed by Tolbert, former state Rep. Hudson Hallum, D-Marion, agreed in December 2013 to pay a $2,500 fine to the commission and accept the commission’s issuance of a public letter of caution and a public letter of warning for violating several state ethics laws during and after his 2011 special election campaign. Among other things, Hallum admitted he incorrectly reported a $50,000 contribution from his father as a bank loan to his campaign.

Tolbert is vice president for finance, administrative services at Ouachita Baptist University, according to the university’s web site. He previously was chief financial officer at Ouachita Baptist University.

He is a certified public accountant and has served as controller for the Arkansas Baptist Foundation, as an associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, as a staff accountant for Alltel Information Services and on the staff of the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council before becoming Ouachita’s chief financial officer in 2015, Ouachita Baptist University said in a news release about his appointment as vice president for finance in 2018.

A native of Wynne, Tolbert earned a bachelor of science in education degree from Ouachita Baptist University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


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