Governor Beebe has finally made some public comments about our friend Bill Walker and his hiring of an unqualified sign language interpreter. In an interview with KARK about the scandal surrounding state Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s mismanagement of state funds, Beebe was also asked about Walker’s handling of the interpreter situation (kudos to KARK for responding to my call for more attention to this matter).
In the interview, Beebe suggests that the OPM review, which I have analyzed, was initiated at his prompting: “I wanted OPM to get in the middle of it…which they did.” This is an interesting claim because, according to one of the earliest reports on this issue from KATV, it was the Personnel Services Committee that initiated the review process by referring the matter to the Department of Finance & Administration (the umbrella organization for OPM).
Beebe said that it was after the conclusion of the OPM review that he determined that Clara Taylor’s hiring was inappropriate:
“…That’s when I came to the conclusion that the person that was hired was unqualified for the job and, I thought, inappropriately hired based upon information I had. Mr. Walker accepted responsibility for that, even though I think there was some conflicting information in some of the testimony earlier. He ultimately accepted responsibility for that and he is in the process of, I think, going through the advertising to hire a qualified person. That person is no longer there.”
(When the governor says “conflicting information,” what he really means is “falsehoods” — like when Bill Walker told lawmakers that Clara Taylor was already enrolled at UALR to obtain her certification, but she wasn’t.)
The interviewer correctly reminded Beebe that, unlike Treasurer Shoffner, Bill Walker does work for the governor. So, instead of saying, “Yes, and I am deeply concerned about his conduct” or “You’re right, we are looking into the matter,” the governor responded simply by saying, “That’s why I waded in, that’s why I waded in on it.” The reporter then asked the governor if he felt like Walker had done enough. Beebe said, “Right now I do, but we’ll see what else occurs.”
We’ll see what else occurs? What on earth would need to happen in order for Governor Beebe to decide that Walker was at fault? Presumably, the governor has seen the OPM report because, according to his own comments, he’s responsible for its existence. Maybe he hasn’t had time to read it? In any case, here’s a refresher about just how bad Bill Walker’s conduct has been: 7 findings from my analysis of the OPM report:
1. Clara Taylor was hired for a position that she did not apply for and that she was unqualified for.
2. Miss Taylor’s application was artificially inserted into the final round of applicants with a predetermined outcome.
3. Agency officials clearly knew that Taylor was unqualified for the interpreter position.
4. Miss Taylor was incapable of performing the duties of her job.
5. Agency officials, other than Walker, were aware of conflicts of interest.
6. Bill Walker lied when he said he was not involved in Taylor’s hiring.
7. Clara Taylor was given racial preferential treatment.
Exactly what else needs to “occur” before Governor Beebe decides to take disciplinary action against Bill Walker?
You can watch the full KARK interview with the governor here. The questions about Walker begin around the 2:20 mark.
As reported yesterday, Rep. Bryan King plans to petition Governor Beebe for Walker’s removal. We will continue following this story.