AYPN 'Moving Forward' After E-mails Leaked

by Nate Hinkel  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 12:00 am  

Arkansas Young Professionals Network Executive Director William Porterfield, foreground, and other members of the nonprofit's leadership meet last Wednesday at the Law Offices of Gary Green in Little Rock.

Porterfield said AYPN proved its desire to be apolitical by scratching the bylaw that automatically made the sitting governor the chairman of the nonprofit's board of advisors. That change was made when Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, succeeded Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee, and AYPN tapped Paul Harvel, president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, to be chairman.

"That could probably be spun to look like we changed it because the new governor was from a different party, but that was really an effort to get away from partisanship on that board," Porterfield said.

However, an e-mail from Shelton on Feb. 20 referring to an AYPN luncheon at which Beebe was to speak seemed to make light of the rule.

"I know it might be tempting to grill Beebe, but in the context of the election I think it best to ask nothing (especially in light of the fact we're soon to boot him from the [board of advisors]) or ask some light questions about his ideas for the future of the state and watch him pile it higher and deeper for fun," Shelton wrote.

Brantley, the politically liberal Times editor, said the e-mails initially reminded him of the Jaycees civic group that was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s.

"In that case it was a robust civic organization, male, very politically active, that every young businessman with high aspirations wanted to be a part of," he said. "It was long on guys that were good at back-slapping and networking and politicking."

Brantley said AYPN seemed to be made up of the same kind of people.

"The Jaycees ended up burning themselves out after all of that ambition and hobnobbing went unchecked for so long, and indictments started turning up," he said. "I certainly don't think based on these e-mails that anything that serious was going on, but I think it's easy to draw some similarities to what can happen when things like this begin brewing."

Both Porterfield and Compton downplayed the e-mails and offered assurances that AYPN is not politically motivated nor biased against women in leadership or membership.

"The content of those e-mails in no way represents what AYPN is about or the true feelings of the leadership or members of this organization," Compton said. "We have a strong focus on moving forward and proceeding with a lot of the positive things we have in the works for the young professionals here."




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