A Character Reference For David Watkins

Your article "The Arkansas curse strikes again" (Top of the News, May 16) seems an effort to manufacture sensationalism without getting

the complete facts regarding W. David Watkins.

My association with Watkins goes back to 1982, when I first knew him in the long-distance telephone business, providing service to families and businesses in Arkansas and Mississippi. I found that he was not only very capable but a hard-working, innovative entrepreneur who provided leadership of the highest quality. After we sold our businesses, Watkins and I looked at numerous other businesses together, and I found his proposals accurate and well thought out. At no time did Watkins receive commissions or fees that were inappropriate. In fact, the commissions and fees he received did not cover the direct costs that were involved in trying to work with these businesses that were seeking financial help.

In 1989, I began to explore the possibility of working with Outback Steakhouse Inc., and I invited Watkins to work with me in developing a business plan. Watkins did an outstanding job and provided not only Outback but myself with all the information and all the services at reasonable costs that we could have asked for.

I suggest that in the future, you and your staff get all of the facts prior to writing such a disparaging article.

Steve Grantham


J&R Restaurant Group

Jackson, Miss.

Editor's note: Outback Steakhouse is 50% owned by J&R. This letter, one of several we received attesting to Watkins' character and background, was written in response to a request from Watkins, who has since resigned his White House senior staff job.

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