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32 Apply for UA Lobbyist Position, Including Mark Darr

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LITTLE ROCK — More than 30 people have applied for a position as a lobbyist for the University of Arkansas, a job designed to influence policy to benefit the school’s flagship campus in Fayetteville.

Many of the 32 people who applied are associated with government, including former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who resigned on Feb. 1 after being fined $11,000 for ethics violations. State Sen. Johnny Key, R-Mountain Home, is among the applicants, as is former state Sen. Steve Harrelson, a Democrat from Texarkana.

Key said Tuesday that his re-election plans are “in a holding pattern.”

“I’ve not decided yes or no,” said Key, who added he’s waiting to hear from the university on its timeline for making a hiring decision.

The job posting says applications will be accepted until the position is filled. The job carries the title of vice chancellor for governmental relations and the person hired will be tasked with working to “inform and influence public policy at the county, state and federal levels on issues of interest to higher education and the university.”

The position is coming open with the retirement of Richard Hudson, who announced in November he would leave as of June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Records show Hudson’s salary is $202,000.

Hudson held the job for two decades.

Darr’s cover letter is dated Feb. 20 and he closed it by writing, “Woo Pig Sooiee and Go HOGS Go!” In his application, Darr wrote that his last job was as lieutenant governor, noting that he would explain his reason for leaving during the interview process.

As references, he lists House Speaker Davy Carter, a fellow Republican, Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Courtney Goodson and former Arkansas football coach Ken Hatfield, whom he described as a friend and a mentor.

Rick Jenkins, a former associate director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and a former city manager of Hubbard, Texas, said in his cover letter that his background gives him the varied experience to qualify him for the job. He included a reference letter from Shane Broadway, Higher Education Department Director.

Also applying is Randy Massanelli, state director for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, who is in a re-election fight. Massanelli includes his boss and the state’s other member of the upper chamber, Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, among his references.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kathy Van Laningham is the contact person for the job but the posting says the person hired will report to Chancellor David Gearhart.

Some applicants live out of state but have ties to Arkansas.

Duke McLarty serves in President Barack Obama’s administration as a policy adviser for the Federal Housing Administration in Washington, D.C. Chuck Carney, an applicant currently working as a spokesman at Indiana University and pursuing a doctorate degree, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from UA.

University of Arkansas spokesman Mark Rushing said two candidates have withdrawn their names, including Arkansas Education Commissioner Ken James.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)

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