ABC Trustees epitomize the complacency, corruption and complicity of the black misleadership class
Little Rock's Arkansas Baptist College numbers among its leaders corrupt Clinton cronies, money launderers, possible former FBI informants and others who sell prisoners' blood, grossly mismange school finances, raise money under questionable pretenses and more all in the name of black uplift.
Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) is at once the hope and despair for certain Black people in Little Rock. While some still imagine that in its early years it was a glorious vindication of Black people’s capacity for self-reliance, today only the lunatic fringe of the community remain so deluded. The venality at ABC was recently exposed from a perspective inside the Black community. ABC’s concerns are now a part of a high tide of nationwide resistance against the corruption at HBCUs. From Bethune-Cookman to Morehouse to Hampton if we can cooperate we can emancipate, but we have a long way to go.
Unlike those at Howard and Hampton, ABC students have yet to build their movement. But when they do, and if the community backs them up it could be the beginning of a new era in Black politics.
The questionable activities of ABC’s trustees predate the legally disputed resignation or termination of President Joseph L. Jones and the subsequent purging of his brief administration, which barely lasted a single year. ABC trustees alleged Jones was less than transparent and financially mismanaged the college. However, it is well documented that it was the previous administration of Dr. Fitz Hill (2006-2016) that bankrupted the college with exorbitant loans, made the campus a hotbed of corruption, and left Jones to “afro-engineer” the bills.
During Dr. Hill’s tenure as president of ABC, he trashed all the books in the college library and replaced them with video games. Hill presided over a grade fixing scandal where an undergraduate was permitted to be assistant registrar. Hill initiated sweet heart land deals where the college purchased property that benefited at least two ABC trustees, (Richard Massey and Richard L Mays). Hill oversaw capital building projects at the college and generated exorbitant debt while ABC was unable to pay its light and telephone bills. He allowed a dining hall executive, who had her own catering business, to order excessive amounts of food, and to steal food. On Hill’s watch, football coaches reportedly pocketed proceeds from ticket sales and concessions. Perhaps the most shocking example of the ABC trustees and Hill’s dereliction was Hill’s appointment to the presidency of the Arkansas Baptist College’s non-profit foundation, which they somehow allowed to function without 501c3 status for four years. Hill has yet to restore legality to the ABC Foundation, and it seems likely that he presides over a shadow entity that raises funds in the name of the college but which the college never receives.
Nonetheless, Dr. Hill has been appointed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to the State Board of Education, a testament to his powerfully corrupt political connections. A petition is being circulated asking the governor to rescind this ill-considered appointment (why not sign it?) on the grounds that Dr. Fitz Hill’s antics are a standing embarrassment to Black education, an embodiment of Black community misleadership, and financial mismanagement. Worse still, Dr. Hill is far from the only player in this shameful drama.
Bill Walker: Aspiring Exploiter of Black Deaf People and Others Who Hear Him Loud and Clear
ABC Trustee and former Arkansas legislator Bill Walker was voted onto the board in August 2017. The trustees made Walker leader of the Emergency Management Committee, “put in place to serve as a clearing house on all financial matters and operations of the College…” over the short-lived presidency of Dr. Joseph Jones. When Jones resigned or was terminated, Walker pointed out that the Jones administration had not paid withholding taxes to the IRS, though Jones had planned to pay them in January 2018 when new revenues came into the college. Apparently this was not fast enough for Walker and the ABC trustees, who for the previous decade seemed unconcerned about ABC’s consistent failure to pay its bills in a timely manner. It would be interesting to know whether, with Walker in charge, this particular bill has been paid yet.
Besides being a state legislator, Walker has been an administrator of the state Career Development Agency, the owner of a minority contract for concessions at the Little Rock airport, and front-man for real estate “ventures,” and multi-level marketing while employed in the public service. At each moment in his public career, questions have been asked about his ethics. Walker tried to place unqualified friends and family on the state budget, and has even been fingered for betraying Black deaf people with his crafty plans. Walker organized a sweet heart real estate scam to benefit himself and friends like Richard Mays, seeking to transfer the government office he led into Mays owned real estate. Walker’s defense was white people have made similar arrangements.
Walker also has a peculiar history as an artificial nonconformist. When Walker was younger, he took part in a local movement to close crack houses that did not disavow collaboration with the police; Walker later employed a major gang leader of the Crips (who repented for past crimes but may have aided future repression), even helping him secure a Habitat for Humanity house. That local movement, called DIGNITY, used to show a documentary exposing COINTELPRO, the FBI’s counter-intelligence program against Black freedom movements. Is Walker then, a rebel with no cause but his own, collaborating with white government officials to obtain patronage in exchange for reconciliation with those who exploit Black people?
Richard L Mays: The Fixer Who Sold Black Prisoners’ Blood and the Expert on Transparency
ABC Trustee Richard Mays is a former Clinton appointee, a State Supreme Court Justice, an Ethics Commission member, a parole board member, a Washington lobbyist. He is also constantly involved in real estate hustles, campaign finance scams and made a business out of trading literally in Black prisoners’ blood.
Richard L. Mays recently was offered an op-ed masquerading as an objective journalistic article that interviewed him in the Arkansas Business Observer to drag Jones in public as someone who is less than transparent. This is like the pot calling the kettle sneaky. Mr. Mays has distinguished himself in public life, when not pursuing sweet heart land deals, as a fixer – someone who makes arrangements for other people of a dubious or devious kind. This has been particularly so for Bill and Hillary Clinton and those who financially have propped them up. Is it difficult to underline how an attorney or judge behaves in a manner that empowers if not illegal, then immoral activity for others? Mays insists that Jones would not take his guidance. Perhaps Jones hesitated to listen to a man who has a history of trading in Black people’s blood.
According to a 1999 article in Counterpunch, entitled “Blood Suckers,” when Clinton became governor of Arkansas, the Arkansas state prison board rewarded a lucrative contract to Health Management Associates or HMA. The company was paid $3 million to run prison medical services. HMA started a business on the side: blood mining. Arkansas prisoners at that time, were among the few in the country not paid for their labor, as minimal and oppressive as those wage relations are in prisons. This created an opportunity for prisoners to sell their blood for $7 a pint and HMA sold it on the market for $50 a pint. The blood largely came from prisoners in Cummin Unit in Grady, Arkansas. This scandalous exploitation happened from 1983-1986.
Prison guards took kick-backs to continue the blood trade after the FDA sounded the alarm. Many prisoners who donated blood were compensated with drugs. HMA also traded in poor Haitians blood. The front-man for this blood business in crisis was Richard L Mays, long-time trustee of Arkansas Baptist College. The Arkansas State police launched a half-hearted investigation into allegations that HMA was awarded a renewal of its contract after bribing members of the state prison board. The investigation soon focused on Mays. He was paid by HMA to act as an “ombudsman” for the company, a position that had no clear job responsibilities. An ombudsman, in theory, investigates ethics violations, especially those of a public official. In fact, Mays functioned as a Black face in a high place who could justify the crime of exploiting Black people.
Mays has been part of many other scandals. He secured the $100,000 contribution of Charlie Trie, a Little Rock restaurant owner, to Bill Clinton, while vice president of finance for the Democratic National Committee. Trie was placed on trial by the U.S. government during the China/Clinton-Gore campaign finance scandal. We must recall that this scandal was publicly distinguished by much anti-Asian American racism. In a moment where many are concerned about Russian intervention in American politics, the mid 1990s were a time where a similar concern existed about China.
All nation-states try to undermine each other; all politicians and business people seek advantage from allies at home and abroad. Treason suggests a betrayal of one’s country; but, the application of such charges are mediated by your relationship to the state and wealth. Government hearings that examine “scandal” are always show trials to obscure greater crimes. Where we recognize this, it doesn’t mean necessarily the condemned (or even acquitted or praised) low hanging fruit are good people.
Campaign finance laws are very tricky. On the one hand it is understood that people donate money for influence. At the same time, it is a crime when donations can be established as having a direct influence on public policy. It makes sense that some lawyers are the best mediators for such influence. Still, we have to keep in mind that Mays may have been part of enabling Trie, part of a network of international money launderers that desired to influence American politics through Arkansas, during the Iran-Contra era.
Mays participated in covering up the Clinton’s Whitewater scandal, which began in the late 1970s and early 1980s when then State Attorney General, and then Governor Bill Clinton, and his wife Hilary Clinton, purchased 230 acres of riverfront land in northern Arkansas. This was a sweet heart land deal that was entangled with Big Timber and savings and loan banking. Mays fits in by acting to impede the federal prosecution of David Hale, a former municipal judge and banker that worked with the McDougals, the Clinton’s partners. The fallout of both of these scandals and public scrutiny took place between 1994-1998.
Mays (“Mr. Transparency”) is presently caught in another long brewing controversy (2013-2018) in Little Rock over the purchase and litigation around “The Soul of the South” television station, its broadcasting license, and associated debts. This scandal reveals an intersection of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, the Arkansas Capital Corporation, and new market tax credits that only appear to advance Black community development. The state of Arkansas often sinks money into capital projects under the pretense of their employment potential. What if instead they grant loans that need not be paid back and give tax incentives for re-division of property relations as a reward for other initiatives more obscure? It would not be the first time that a company that receives government monies quickly goes into disarray and decline after expanding their capital without public oversight.
Nevertheless, Mays who appears to be on both sides of the television station conflict insists things are not what they seem. Yet this re-division of property with ADFA, Arkansas Capital Corporation, and new market tax credits has also been happening in the name of Arkansas Baptist College’s initiative for community development. What is Mays not revealing about the economic rape of ABC?
Regina Favors: Joined the FBI to Repress the Black Freedom Movement
ABC Trustee Regina Favors is a businesswoman and retired healthcare executive for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield (Pinnacle Business Solutions) who was constantly audited for overpaying healthcare providers. She is a college professor at both Philander Smith and Arkansas Baptist College, and is on the board of trustees also at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.
Favors is a proud part of the old Clinton machine, and as she noted in this 2006 article highlighting Arkansas minority business leaders, she joined the FBI, the nation’s political police after high school. This was officially the period on her resume from 1965-1968. Favors has said she was employed as an “advanced reader,” a curious job description if there ever was one. Considering that FBI agents are required to have college degrees, one wonders at their need to retain high school grads for “advanced reading.” Was Favors one of the FBI’s many informants spying upon movement activists in the 60s and thereafter?
Did Favors spy on teachers and students at Ouachita Baptist College and Arkansas Baptist College? Did she assist in surveillance of UA Pine Bluff and Philander Smith College (centers of civil rights activism)? Did she recruit others?
Having worked for the nation’s political police at the height of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements is no small matter. Ms. Favors may wish to clarify what she did as a high school student in the pay of the FBI, when if ever her association with the FBI ended, and come clean about which of the elders in the Freedom Movement she spied upon for the FBI.
Favors credits Bill Clinton instead of the popular movement for giving ordinary people in Arkansas opportunity to live a decent life for the first time. Black people, she says, were able “as a community” to get decent jobs, invest our money, and take care of our families under Clinton. In fact, diversity in professional hierarchies does not touch the poor. A recently acclaimed study, The First Civil Right makes clear Bill Clinton, the racial liberal, was in the forefront of promoting legislation to elevate the purported “War on Drugs” and stoked mass incarceration of Black people. But did Clinton and associates also play a key role in placing drugs in Little Rock Black communities?
Bob Nash: The Made-Man Who Covered Up Drug-Dealing for the CIA
Longtime ABC trustee Bob Nash is a former economic advisor to Governor Bill Clinton, former director of White House personnel for President Clinton, organizer of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and corporate executive for banks and consulting firms. Nash became a made-man laundering for drug dealers, international bankers, and the CIA during the Iran-Contra affair under the pretense of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Bob Nash’s role in money laundering for drugs coming into the country through ADFA is documented in the book by Terry Reed and John Cummings, Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA (1994). This study puts him in conversation with Oliver North, William P. Barr (future attorney general), and others who were present when Nash took suitcases of money for bribes. It is clear Vice President George HW Bush (former CIA director) and CIA director William Casey were observing this operation from afar. Compromised makes clear that Nash and Clinton agreed to launder the drug money through ADFA for a certain percentage of profit. The CIA warned Clinton and Nash that they were aware more than their share was being taken. If they got back in line Clinton could be a future president. American intelligence agencies cannot vote for president. But they can create campaigns of disinformation that can discredit a public figure and impede them from attaining higher office.
For many years, objective discussion of Nash’s role in this period has been suppressed by Arkansas State courts and Federal courts. Only recently (2016) has a court accepted litigation, on behalf of Linda Ives, the grieving mother still seeking declassified documents on the killing of “the boys on the tracks,” who were said to inadvertently witness the helicoptering of drugs into the state of Arkansas, and permitted a lawyer to survey the copious literature on Clinton’s and Nash’s role and place these concerns officially in the public record.
A recent Hollywood film starring Tom Cruise, American Made, dramatizes how the CIA trained the Contras at Mena Airport in Arkansas to overthrow the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, and collaborated with drug smugglers who were pilots to produce cash to support this secret war with arms and other supplies. President Reagan accused the Sandinistas of being drug dealers but it has been revealed time and again that the Contras were more interested in drug dealing than “liberating” Nicaragua. Further, Bill Clinton’s and George HW Bush’s much heralded post presidency love affair is based on their collaboration in advancing this secret war and enabling drugs to flow into the country through Arkansas before Clinton became president in 1992.
Bob Nash’s “panic memo,” brought to light by the Arkansas Committee of Fayetteville, a group of student activists in the 1990s, revealed his awareness and complicity in steering ADFA toward international money laundering through the networks of Coral Insurance, AIG (founded by the OSS, forerunner of the CIA), and BCCI (known popularly as the bank of criminals). Stephens Inc., the Arkansas based financiers and patron of scandal behind ABC, has also been behind the flow of illicit monies, weapons, and drugs. This is indeed a labyrinth that is hard to grasp. There is plenty of documentation to explore. Little Rock’s local concerns are a part of larger economic problems and foreign affairs on a global scale.
Thanks to Bob Nash’s antics, dangerous drugs found their way into Little Rock’s and other Black communities known for gang warfare and blight. Tens or hundreds of thousands of young African Americans have been jailed for using or selling small quantities of crack cocaine, while Nash and Hill purport to be on a mission of uplifting young people and reclaiming the neighborhood surrounding Arkansas Baptist College.
While Governor Asa Hutchinson is being petitioned to remove Dr. Hill from the State Board of Education, keep in mind the governor’s own role in looking the other way as drugs came into Western Arkansas and the Black community in particular. Despite formerly being a U.S. Attorney, head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the first Undersecretary for Border Enforcement the Dept. of Homeland Security; Hutchinson has repeatedly sustained the “War on Drugs” and the war on the Black community. Hutchinson (with the likes of Nash) has elevated Hill, a public critic of “Black on Black crime” but not white supremacy or the police state that permitted the drugs in the Black community. It is these type of people who decide who fronts for supposedly independent Black education and institutions.
Alexander Cockburn’s and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs, and the Press gathers much evidence about Arkansas and the CIA’s role in bringing drugs into the country. They underscore a crucial perspective. Black popular history, recorded as word on the street, often conveys a “paranoia.” They ask us to consider if this characterization of distrust among the Black community, where many half-baked conspiracy theories are often floated about, is partially a product of white racism.
Decades after the fact, it’s common knowledge that the US government for reasons of its own facilitated the importation and sale of vast quantities of illegal drugs. Today’s leadership of Arkansas Baptist College includes some of the participants in those nefarious schemes.
Why does Bill Walker, a public figure who used to be concerned about the crack cocaine epidemic in the Black community, not point the finger at Bob Nash? Why does the great expert on crime, Regina Favors, not discover the linkages in the city? If Walker was concerned about COINTELPRO, how could he work with Favors? What do ABCT trustee peers make of Richard Mays, the apostle of transparency and profiteer on Black blood selling? Doesn’t Dr. Hill wish to close the crack house and “put the neighbor back in the ‘hood?”
Arkansas Baptist College today is a place where big capital projects are conducted, but debts and taxes never paid, a place where money is apparently raised under false pretenses, a college with a worse graduation rate than any HBCU in the country, a place to which accrediting bodies and federal administrators have turned a blind eye. For the Black misleadership class, it is not illegal or unethical to join the state, the FBI in spying on and repressing the Black freedom movement, the CIA in bringing drugs into Arkansas. As they steer Black youth toward college and “legitimate” employment, one wonders if the ABC trustees have any leg to stand on in their critique of who is dishonest, unlawful, and self-destructive. Black misleaders like the ABC trustees have a lot to say about what class of Black people are embarrassing, but they seem utterly incapable of embarrassment themselves.