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Monday, December 17, 2012

Ethics complaint against Lowery grinds to conclusion

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 8:51 AM

LOWERY: Ethics complaint grinds on.
  • LOWERY: Ethics complaint grinds on.
As far as I can tell, the failure of Republican House candidate Mark Lowery to file timely campaign finance reports got attention only on this blog after a complaint was filed with the state Ethics Commission. The law apparently is only a nuisance to future lawmaker Lowery, who won a tough fight against a vigorous Democrat, Kelly Halstead, for a House seat in the Maumelle area. He can't claim ignorance of the law. He managed to report a corporate-financed campaign in the primary; but timely post-primary filing was noticeably absent from the secretary of state record.

UPDATE: The complainant in the case, David Trussell, tells me he appeared Friday for an Ethics Commission hearing on the matter. Lowery didn't show, he said. According to Trussell, he was informed that Lowery had acknolwedged a failure to file on time, but claimed no intention to deceive. Indications are that this will lead in time to a show cause order against Lowery. The likely resolution then would be a token fine for his apparent failure to file four reports in a timely fashion, unless he decides to contest the order. That could take at least another month. Trussell comments that it's a good example of how candidates for office can slide past rules violations (think, too, of the recent findings of improprieties in contributions by Republican candidates to other candidates) until well after elections have been decided, particularly when the media don't much care.

The reports he filed showed that Lowery, too, benefitted from one of those "ticketed event" scams in which mostly unopposed Republican legislators allegedly paid $200 each to attend a fund-raiser for Lowery. Funny thing. The only people who seemed to have bought tickets to the putative fund-raiser were 14 Republican legislators. That's because these are scam contributions. They've been enabled by the Ethics Commission, which, to its shame, has approved use of campaign money for other candidates (despite an explicit prohibition against using campaign money for campaign contributions) when it is used to buy tickets to so-called fund-raising events. The justification is that the legislators could advance their own causes by attending such events and meet others with money for them. It is a transparent joke, an insult to ethics and honesty in government. It won't be the last time it happens now that the Ethics Commission has opened the door and the GOP has driven a truck through the hole. PS - If you have time and would like to see the details of a wholly corporate- and PAC-funded candidate, aided by redirection of the same corporate and PAC money from a variety of Republican committees, run through Lowery's filings. You'll play hell finding Maumelle resident money, not counting the corporate money directed to him by Dillard's lobbyist Dean Elliott, a Maumelle resident.

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