Transcript of GOP Candidates Dan Sullivan, John Cooper, and Chad Niell's Speeches
at the Jonesboro Landlord's Meeting September 9, 2013.
Note at the very end of this document an interesting response to a question by candidate Chad Niell, the one who is wealthy enough to finance his own campaign and is running ads day and night. He describes what his business is and how it works.
All seven candidates for Senator Bookout's seat were invited, but only the son of Radius Baker came to represent any of the Democrats. Radius Baker had a prior commitment. They drew names for order of speakers. Dan Sullivan spoke first, John Cooper 2nd, and Chad Niell third. They had 10 minutes each to speak and two minutes to answer questions in the Q & A session that followed.
Dan Sullivan - Less than five minutes
I'm Dan Sullivan. I have lived here in Jonesboro since 1996. I came in 1970 to play basketball here at ASU. (Humorously named four or five names of other people, players I think that I could not understand saying he made one of them famous to good natured laughter and think he mentioned his wife. Rustling paper covered the sound for his comments here)
I have two children. My son is back there in the back, Matt; I have a daughter down in Texas; she teaches school. I worked for Ascent Children's Health Services. I started that in 1996. I taught school in Jonesboro and ended up being principal of South school for three years. When Jonesboro and Craighead County Schools decided they wanted to start an alternative school for the county, they came to me and asked me to run the countywide alternative school, Success School. You may have seen that in the paper some. My wife is the one that named Success Academy as Success School.
Ascent hired me after that in 2004. I worked for Ascent until just a few months ago, resigned and started my own business and then Ascent asked me to come back.
Real quickly, let me tell you what I think separates me from other candidates in the race. I have been involved in the legislative process for the last ten years. I am going to speak specifically about health care because this is what started me and got me involved in in the race, my business.
In Washington D.C it is all about control - control your health care, control your business, control your schools, invade your privacy. That's what the issues are now. I got involved with health care - DHS , Human Services was trying to put episodes of care similar to - it was their payment reform method and they were pushing these episodes. There was hip and knee replacement, there was influenza. There were about ten or twelve of them. When DHS was pushing one of these, the association and also the president of Behavioral Health Provider Association, which is a small group of people similar to you, with about the same number of folks in the state. We thought that the data DHS was using to implement this was wrong. DHS disagreed, and we said it is wrong; you can't move forward with these without information that says you are doing what is right.
DHS did not give us the information for three months, and we stopped it in committee. It didn't get out of committee. We got the information on a Friday at 4:00; the meeting assembled on Monday at 7:00. In preparation for the next meeting, it ended up that the Governor called a meeting of the farm association and several key legislators; in all I think there were 17 episodes. The only one the state passed off on was the episode we pushed. We had the data to refute what DHS said, and they agreed and now they have put a hold on all those processes. That is one example of how I have been involved with the legislative process for the last ten years.
Whoever we elect this election is going to go to Little Rock and has to be prepared to begin Day one. There won't be a learning curve; there won't be a process. The financial session starts right then. I've got the experience; I have worked with the folks and most likely my position will be on the public health committee. I met with all the public health folks last week.
You, in your profession and your business, have the same situation. What Washington wants to do is being passed down through Little Rock; they want to squeeze your profit margin; they are going to figure out what you make, and they are going to squeeze with the regulations and rules. They are going to squeeze that margin until they figure out just how much they think you should make. That is the direction they are going in a lot of things. Again it is about control; it is about controlling your businesses, controlling your health care, and controlling how much money you make. I will fight and defend your right to do that.
Small businesses are really under attack. I stopped the business I was in with Ascent and started my own consulting business. I worked as a lobbyist. There are a lot of people who have small businesses like you that didn't have time to go to Little Rock and fight for them. Well, I have worked with companies to help consult and help them move through and navigate all the regs that were coming down, and that is what I am prepared to do for associations like this too. Thank you.
John Cooper: 10 minutes
Good evening. I am John Cooper. I am also running for the senate seat District 21. Sue and I have been married for 43 years, and we have two children and four grandchildren. Both of our children graduated from ASU and live out of state at the present time. I am a Vietnam era veteran. I served three years in Germany from 1966 to 1969. In 1989 I was also ordained to the ministry as a Primitive Baptist minister.
I am a hunter, an outdoorsman, a member of the NRA, and I believe in the Second Amendment rights. I believe in Constitutional integrity, and I am an unwavering conservative. I believe in the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe that marriage should be described as one man, one woman, and I am 100% pro life. I don't believe there is any wavering on that as for as I am concerned.
I do oppose the Obamacare Private Option. I think I am the only one taking a firm position on that. I will vote against that; and sometimes people say that the Private Option is not Obamacare, but it is. There is no way around it; it's the method of implementing it in this state or in any state. The health care exchanges is the mechanism for doing that. It is going to be a disastrous for this state. Good medicine and Obamacare will never be known in the same breath in the future.
That is probably the most destructive, disastrous legislation that has ever been passed. People say it cannot be undone, but it can. It can be in this state as well, and I intend to do what I can to help that. As a direct result of that bill, 80% of the new jobs in this country are part time jobs; and that is a direct result of it. The teachers' insurance is largely involved in that - although I realize not a 100% of it is, but it is a factor. There are other factors as well that are involved in that cost of insurance. We will never solve the cost of teacher insurance as long as this plan is intact.
I believe in limited government. Arkansas is one of the fastest growing state governments in the country. In fact, I believe we are number two, no number six. We are number two in another area. Number six is the fastest growing state government in the nation. We are outgrowing the individual per capita income. I do favor tying whatever government growth we have to the GDP. Right now in Arkansas we have 1.3% GDP growth, and the reason for that is that we have so much over regulation in this state, it's just massive over regulation. That is the one we are number two in.
What a lot of people don't realize is that over regulation affects not only per capita income; but it affects life expectancy, infant mortality, and job satisfaction. There are a lot of things that go into it other than just per capita income. But all those things are affected. We can positively make a difference in business and the economy growth in this state by reducing over regulation, and that would not cost this state one dollar in tax money.
I believe in ethics reform, and we have room to lower taxes. I believe that any tax increase should be voted on by three-fourths vote in the legislature. I also believe in transparency. In the House we have streaming video, and that should be done in the Senate as well. The Senate does not do that right now.
We also have a situation that I think should be changed; this is another transparency issue. It is related to the open checkbook law that was passed a couple years ago by the legislature . Democrats and Republicans alike voted for that, and that is one of the best things that has ever happened in keeping track of state finance.
What needs to happen now is committee votes need to be officially reported. A lot of people are shocked to realize that committee votes are not necessarily taken and officially recorded. A lot of those votes have to do with what the Chairman hears. When they take a vote, somebody says Yea, somebody says Nay; and whatever he hears is whatever he or she [the Chair] wants to hear. Those votes need to be officially recorded. It needs to be official so that you all can know how your representative has voted on any particular issue. There has been legislation that has passed that afterwards people could not find enough representatives to admit how they voted to either pass the bill or for it to fail whichever the case may be, on controversial issues of course.
I would encourage job growth by giving more control to local leaders. There is nobody in Jonesboro or any other city that knows more about what this city needs and what this region needs than the local leaders do. It can be coordinated better here than in a one trick pony show out of Little Rock.
There is something that is going to be on your ballot next fall. It is Joint Resolution 1009 and it is being billed as ethics. Well, there are a lot of odd things that is not always as it seems on first glance. This bill has a lot of cosmetic things to get your attention; but when you really want to know what is in something, read a little further down in it because the important stuff is not going to be the first line that you read. It is not even going to be probably the first, second, or third.
The important thing on this is about twelve pages deep. What this amounts to is to make sure that incumbents can get re-elected. What is happening right now is in the House there is a six year limit, and in the Senate they can serve two four-year terms. They are term limited on each side of that. What this bill does is fold that together, and now you can have sixteen years, a total of sixteen years now. Obviously, an incumbent staying in the same position over and over and over again, it becomes impossible to get them out. They build up campaign war chests, and it is hard right now for a challenger to beat an incumbent. It is almost impossible. If this passes, this is going to be much more difficult to do.
One more thing I guess I want to address. That is the Common Core standards. I am absolutely opposed to Common Core. This is a top down government takeover of our education system. It is being billed as something that will allow local communities to have input in education. But don't believe it because what it does it establishes the testing requirements to be controlled somewhere else. If somebody else controls testing features, then they control everything.
It is being implemented, it was implemented actually by the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Federal law prohibits the federal government from setting the standards for accreditation education. That is not something they are not supposed to do, but the Obama administration took that over, did it anyway; and it is another Obama Core thing is what it is, just like Obamacare.
One of the dangers of this is that there is a massive collection of data on students and teachers, and it is going to massively take up teachers' time even more than now. And it is detrimental to our school system from a teacher, parent and student standpoint. I do believe in school choice - to give parents and students a better option educationally so they can better determine their own future. I think that is vital for the future of our education system. Thank you.
Chad Niell - five minutes
I'm Chad Niell. Thank you'll for being here tonight and giving us this opportunity. First of all I would like to say, Do we have any veterans in the room? If you are a veteran, just raise your hand. I am a veteran myself. I just want to say, at political functions that I always want to recognize our veterans and say thank you for your service and your sacrifice.
I'm Chad Niell. I'm running for state senator, District 21. I was born in Jonesboro, raised in Jonesboro, been here my whole life. I am a small business owner and a rental property owner just like you. I believe in small government. I believe in lowering taxes on our businesses; I believe in pushing back against our state government because it is too big.
I believe in allowing our communities to have local control of our schools. I think that we are compassionate enough in our community that if we were in charge of insurance for teachers, they would have it. I think that's a big issue right now. That is state control and you've got a mess. You know as well as I do that if this was controlled locally, that we would take care of our teachers. We have a lot of farmers that have wives who are teachers, and that is the way they have to have insurance.
Now I understand that there are a lot of local communities that have schools that couldn't support and provide insurance for those teachers. So that is why we have to have state regulations to take those funds and make it even throughout the state, but I am not going to get into those particular issues.
I am pro second amendment; I am pro life. There's some common cores in my life that my convictions come from, and that is definitely the Bible. The Bible defines marriage between a man and a woman, and that is the way it should be; and that is the way I always am going to vote.
I am a former vet, a veteran, and I will do everything I can to support our service members. I think they have a lot of great needs, and they deserve our money and support probably more than a lot of organizations do.
Long Pause. What else do you want to know?
I am not going to speak for these guys but I am going to tell you three weeks ago I had no idea I was going to do this. It is not something that I was planning, it is not an ambition. I feel it is my political responsibility. It is time we have good business leaders stand up with a little common sense, let them work with people and get things done. We just have not had that in this district in quite some time. It has been extreme partisan; you have people that run with a conservative voice, but they don't vote that way. And I am not going to just be a conservative voice; I will be a conservative vote.
I want to represent you, and I want to represent you well. To say that I know every issue that has come out right now or that has happened would be a farce; I don't. Because I have not been involved in the political process. But I started a business with nothing; now we are one of the fastest growing companies in the state of Arkansas. I have hundreds of employees; I know what that struggle is like. I know the burden and regulations that we face with those taxes, and I want to be a strong voice against some of those things.
The way that you get a consensus, the way that you make policy is with people like you. You say, Hey Chad, we have got this issue in our organization or with our tenants or something and we need to get this changed. I say that's a great idea, let's see what we can do. And we go down there, we will get it in committee and see if we can get it written up and go from there.
I have been in that process several times. I have written several pieces of legislation. Recently just in this last session, I worked with Harold Copenhaver [Democrat representing Jonesboro] to get something passed. At the time it was against state law to release the inmates with nothing but a check, and we are kind of up on technology and we were allowing them to be released with a credit card. That wasn't necessarily allowed at the time and we had to get the process turning, the wheels, and the legislation to make that legal ? There were sheriffs' departments involved in that, and it went through and passed; and we did it on a bipartisan basis and it benefitted not only a poor community, the inmates, and some other issues as well.
I am not going to do anything to embarrass you; I am not going to do anything that won't make you proud. I've been in this community my whole life. I could live anywhere in the world that I want to live. There's no better place than Jonesboro. I want you to have a positive voice, I want you to have a positive representative to give you the kind of voice that I feel you are going to want. I appreciate your vote and your support. Thank you.
Radius Baker's son spoke on behalf of Radius Baker who had a prior commitment at Valley View school where he is superintendent, but did not come (in his own words) to discuss different views or stances that his father has on subject. Other than Baker's son being there in his place, none of the Democrat candidates showed up.
Interesting Response to Question by Chad Niell
Question: What exactly is Tiger Correctional Services.
Chad: It is really difficult to explain. I actually worked for a company that did something similar years ago. That's how I got in this business, and at that time what we provided was personal hygiene items - anything that the inmate needed in a jail. That's what we did; and when we started the business, it was kind of like high tech vending.
I actually hired a programmer that came up with a banking program that handles inmates' money. When you do this, what was happening was you have people coming into the jails with cash to give to the inmates. You have a clerk that has to give them a handwritten receipt, and they have to take and put it in inmate's locker, and they then have to take it to the bank.
There is a lot of opportunity there for abuse and, believe it or not, a deputy at a jail will steal. They had to write down the receipt; they had to keep up with that. It is just a big burden plus if the inmates were allowed to have cash, they could bribe the officers, they could gamble, they could do things like that. And then if the jail allowed people to bring stuff in, then everything they brought in had to be searched; you had contraband issues so what we created eliminated all of that.
We give this software to the jails for free; and in return anything that those inmates need comes to our company. So if you are in jail, and you have got money on those books, it goes into that system, You place an order; we get it in our warehouse; it goes through quality control, your balance statement is verified; and we ship you the stuff and you get it the next day. It is in a heat sealed container. It is items the jail has approved for their inmates' use. (Niell mentioned here that someone got a commission on this but I could not tell from the tape exactly what was said, who received the commission and who paid it.)
Same person asking question: Okay.
Person starts to ask next question.
Chad says that is just one part of it.
Person continues with her question:
You sound like a very busy young man. Do you feel you can devote enough time because this is very time consuming, believe me?
Niell. What I told my employees years ago, one of these days I am going to die; I am not going to be here. So I have to train you to run this business without me, and that is the type of employees that I have.
Q. Then you feel comfortable.
Niell. I feel very comfortable. I have not done anything in two years.
There are certain laws you have when you start a business; when you hit a million dollars revenue there are things you have to do, when you have 5 million dollars worth of revenue there are things you have to do; when you have ten million dollars revenue there are things you have to do, and we are not going to have another one until we hit 50 which we are probably going to do in about three years. And so I can walk away; if I got hit in a plane crash tomorrow, my business would survive; and I set it up that way five years ago." (End of Chad Niell's response)
Also note that candidate John Cooper stated, "I do oppose the Obamacare Private Option. I think I am the only one taking a firm position on that." Neither Chad Niell nor Dan Sullivan challenged him on that statement, and they both had ample opportunity to do so. And neither of them mentioned the Private Option Medicaid Expansion in their speeches or in the Question and Answer session that followed.
For links to more interviews on these candidates and a short document see this link: http://www.wpaag.org/Nic%20Horton%20interview%20with%20GOP%20candidates.htm
Transcribed September 15 by Women Action Group email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.wpaag.org