Arkansas Committee Concludes Probe of Corrections Board’s Hiring of Outside Counsel

The Arkansas Board of Corrections has come under scrutiny for its hiring of outside counsel, attorney Abtin Mehdizadegan, to represent the board in litigation with the state. The Joint Performance Review Committee, tasked with investigating potential violations of procurement law, has closely examined the circumstances surrounding Mehdizadegan’s appointment. Here are the key findings:

The Controversial Hiring Process

The board’s decision to hire Mehdizadegan raised several concerns:

  • Lack of Formal Bid Process: The contract was awarded without a formal bid process, which has drawn criticism from lawmakers.
  • Emergency Appropriation: In March, the board requested an emergency, retroactive appropriation of $207,000 to pay the attorney for representing them in two lawsuits.
  • Transparency Issues: Lawmakers have taken issue with the lack of public discussion and votes on the agreement.

Arkansas legal controversy

Committee Recommendations

Despite failing to pass a motion due to absent committee members, the Joint Performance Review Committee discussed perceived violations of law:

  • Disregard for Transparency Laws: The board disregarded government transparency laws, including the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
  • Lack of Authority: The board lacked the financial or statutory authority to hire Mehdizadegan.
  • Acknowledgment of Process Failures: Board members acknowledged their “lack of process” for board meetings and procurement.

The Road Ahead

The committee’s investigation highlights the need for accountability and transparency within the Arkansas Board of Corrections. As the state grapples with the aftermath of this controversy, the echoes of this hiring decision continue to resonate.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *