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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Democrats counter Republican legislative onslaught

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 6:11 AM

BOO HOO: Rep. Nate Bell takes offense at dose of own medicine.
  • BOO HOO: Rep. Nate Bell takes offense at dose of own medicine.
I follow Tea Party Republican (now a redundancy in Arkansas, with 2 or three exceptions) Nate Bell of Mena, because he's a pretty good representation of the future of Arkansas government if Republicans gain a legislative majority. They'll wreck the state budget with enormous tax cuts for the wealthy, a price that can be paid only by reduction in services — education, health care, public safety — for everyone else. Women's rights and compassionate treatment of minorities — sexual, ethnic and otherwise — will be figments of the imagination. Regulation of polluters will be another distant memory.

In any case, I read that Bell is unhappy about Democratic advertising targeting him for his opposition to the generally successful mainstream governance of the wildly popular Gov. Mike Beebe. Republicans liked it a lot better in 2010, when Democratic ads, such as they existed, promoted the party candidate rather than tearing down the opposition as the Republican attack machine did. Poor baby.

Beebe has presided over a major tax cut for all Arkansans, generally improving educational results and a cautious budgeting process that hasn't required drastic spending revisions or stopgap tax increases to meet constitutionally required balanced budgets. If he hasn't been bold enough for me on some pet topics, he's at least been moderate. Moderation is a vice that you'll never be able to ascribe to Nate Bell, Loy Mauch, Jon Hubbard or the rest of the Republican spear throwers.

TERESA OELKE: Leads the Koch battle against Democrats in Arkansas.
  • TERESA OELKE: Leads the Koch battle against Democrats in Arkansas.
The good news is that the Beebe popularity translated into significant Democratic Party fund-raising that apparently is being devoted to advertising contrasting the bomb throwers with the steady course charted by Mike Beebe. It is at least an answer, though likely to be outspent, by Republican messaging. You know the GOP drill: "Democrats love taxes and queers and killing babies." The Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity is already filling mailboxes across Arkansas with "independent" attacks on Democratic candidates. An expenditure of $10,000 by AFP in each of 25 to 30 districts could be enough to deliver an Arkansas majority to the Koch Brothers, in concert with Republican and other essentially coordinated efforts by other "independent" Republican money machines. Arkansas would complete the Solid South for the new Tea Party Church of Republican Fundamentalism and so it is viewed as a national prize. You think $250,000 is a lot of money? If you have a billion, like each of the Kochs, it's the equivalent of an expenditure of about $125 by someone with $500,000 in the bank. You have $500,000 in the bank, don't you? Bottom line: You can buy the Arkansas legislature cheap.

To win this national prize, AFP and Bell and the rest hope to make the Arkansas legislative elections a referendum on Barack Obama. Democrats hope to make it a referendum on Mike Beebe. Barack Obama and his thinking have had little influence on the Arkansas legislature. Mike Beebe has been quite another matter. Voters overlook the difference with grave peril.

Bell's answer to criticism of him is the half-truth of numbers that show Arkansas has suffered along with the rest of the country economically in the disaster created by George W. Bush. The full truth is that it could have been a lot worse and we're better off than many. Voter approval of Mike Beebe indicates they get it, if Nate Bell does not.

Whatever the outcome, it is a touch amusing to hear Republicans like Bell whine when Democrats strike back.

PS — The Democratic Party rounds up some of the reaction and reporting done so far on the dishonest attack mailers by Americans for Prosperity. (Remember how Repubs defending Citizens United said spending should be unlimited, but they all favored transparency. Another lie. The Koch fronts don't report their financial resources or spending and they don't take questions either.)


An outside interest group was found to be in error on recent mailings it sent out falsely attacking candidates for state office.

News coverage follows.

Wilkins: Mailer distorts truth, misleads public

By Waylon Harris, Sun Staff Writer,

JONESBORO — State Rep. Butch Wilkins said Friday that a mailer from a conservative political action committee “is an attempt to mislead the public.”

The mailer suggests Wilkins voted to advance a $1.1 billion fuel tax that “would make diesel fuel in Arkansas the most expensive in the entire region.”

It refers to House Joint Resolution 1001, which advanced a proposal to the November general election ballot asking voters to approve a temporary half-cent sales tax on diesel fuel to fund maintenance and construction for state highways, bridges and county and city roads.
The resolution was sponsored by Republicans and Democrats.

Americans for Prosperity is a political advocacy group founded in 2004 with support from David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries.

“[Americans for Prosperity] are doing that about everybody; it’s just a distortion of the truth,” Wilkins said. “I’d be leery of anything from them.” (Emphasis added).

Craighead County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Benton Smith said the national advocacy group’s campaign practices are “disgusting.”

“My parents taught me at an early age that not telling the whole truth is the same as lying, and given the tough times we all face, we deserve to know the whole truth,” Smith said. “... It is critical we stand up against the immoral campaign rhetoric used by special interest groups like Americans for Prosperity.” (Emphasis added)

AFP-Arkansas State Director Teresa Crossland-Oelke didn’t return calls and messages Friday seeking comment.

“If you have to lie to win a political seat, then I don’t trust that person, whoever it is,” Wilkins charged Friday. “... We need to be straight up about who we are. I’m not going to let a special interest group control me, and I wouldn’t let one lie about my opponent. ... I’d like to think we have more integrity than that, but I have my doubts. Apparently, people seem to think it’s OK to lie in politics anymore.” (Emphasis added).

Read the full article at this link.

story by Roby Brock, a TCW content partner and owner of Talk Business

Political mailer in error on tax vote

Similar to efforts seen in the primary campaigns, Americans for Prosperity has entered the general election campaigns with a mailer this week hitting two Democrats seeking seats in North Little Rock. Talk Business sources confirm other legislative races around the state were also targeted.

Rep. Jim Nickels, D-Sherwood, and Rep. Barry Hyde, D-North Little Rock, were both criticized in similar direct mail pieces that highlight their legislative votes last year to refer a proposed diesel fuel tax increase for a state highway program.

The near-identical mailers say that the tax increase would make diesel fuel in Arkansas “the most expensive in the entire region” and it questions the potential economic effects of the tax proposal if voters were to approve the measure.

But the diesel fuel tax vote won’t be on the ballot this November. [Emphasis added]

The mailer cites HJR 1001 for the fuel tax vote. In actuality, HJR 1001 was a referred constitutional amendment for a temporary half-cent sales tax to fund a four-lane highway program across Arkansas. It will appear on the ballot this fall as Proposed Amendment 1.

The diesel fuel tax was HB 1902, which became Act 773, and was sponsored by House Speaker Robert Moore (D-Arkansas City). It allowed the Governor to call a special election or tie the diesel fuel tax vote to a general election. After the state’s trucking industry backed out of support for the diesel fuel tax proposal, Gov. Beebe said he would not call an election on the proposal.

Nickels, who represents District 43, is seeking re-election to the newly drawn House District 41 in northern Pulaski County. He faces Republican challenger Alan Pogue and Independent Jim George.

“I think it’s dangerous that we could have an election cycle where ultra-conservative billionaires are spending millions to ensure that their extreme right-wing agenda becomes a reality in Arkansas,” said Nickels.

“Here they go again. My opponent and her supporters are trying to mislead the voters of District 34,” said Hyde, when contacted for comment. (Emphasis added)

Read the full article here.

By KARK 4 News

Conservative Mailer May be Misleading

A mailer produced by a conservative political hammer group slams two democratic state lawmakers over a proposed temporary sales tax.

The flyer that Americans for Prosperity is mailing out claims the measure would make diesel fuel in Arkansas the most expensive in the region, but a diesel fuel tax is not going before voters this November.

And the two state lawmakers targeted by the mailer did not vote for a tax…

Read the full article here.

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