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Legislators seek subpoena of agency heads on issue of TempleLive and PUA

Several members of an Arkansas joint legislative committee alleged the ABC actions were meant as “intimidation” and “retaliation” against TempleLive.
Credit: Talk Business & Politics

FORT SMITH, Ark. — An Arkansas joint legislative committee on Thursday (May 21) took the unusual step to subpoena Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Doralee Chandler and Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston after the two agency heads refused to attend the committee’s meeting.

The Joint House and Senate Committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs were set to discuss during Thursday’s meeting details about the liquor license suspension at TempleLive in Fort Smith prior to the venue moving a concert date to meet a state directive. John Scott, a partner with the Connor and Winters law firm who represents TempleLive, and TempleLive employee Mike Brown did attend the committee meeting. 

Preston was to talk about issues with the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) system that was shut down after a security breach was detected.

The TempleLive saga began when the Fort Smith-based venue scheduled a May 15 Travis McCready concert, which was three days prior to the May 18 reopening date for large venues set by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. 

The concert was set prior to the governor’s May 18 directive.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith sent a 4-page cease and desist order suggesting TempleLive owner Lance Beaty and others could face “administrative penalties, a civil or criminal fine or imprisonment if convicted, or all of the above.”

A few hours prior to a 1 p.m., May 14 press conference announced by Beaty, officials with the Alcoholic Beverage Control arrived at TempleLive to seek “summary suspension” of Beaty’s liquor license. 

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The printed order from ABC noted “that emergency action is required. The business is not operating in the public interest and poses a danger to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.”

To read more of this story visit our partner in content, Talk Business & Politics.