Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ethics Commission will investigate complaints about Conservative Arkansas PAC

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 10:26 AM

In letters obtained by the Arkansas Blog, the Ethics Commission has said it will investigate complaints made by Jeff Oland of Farmington over campaign activities of the Conservative Arkansas PAC in 2012 and 2014 elections.

David Ramsey wrote about the complaint last month. The Ethics Commission letters, mailed March 4, indicate it has found sufficient ground to investigate. The crux of the allegations:

* That the PAC got $5,000 from Arnold Hollingsworth with instructions to spend it on Sen. Jon Woods' election campaign in 2012. The PAC paid $4,250 to Target Direct, recorded as an administrative expense, but actually a contribution to the Woods campaign in the form of direct mail advertising. The money was not disclosed by the Woods campaign or the PAC as a campaign expenditure and it was in excess of the $2,000 contribution limit.

* That the Conservative Arkansas PAC got $5,000 from Randell Shelton of Little Rock to aid the Senate campaign of Rep. John Burris in 2014 (he lost). The money paid for radio ads for Burris, but was recorded as an administrative expense to Diamond State Consulting (the political consulting group headed by Keith Emis and now PSC Chairman Ted Thomas.) In addition to nondisclosure, the allegation is that the contribution was in excess of the PAC contribution limit of $2,000.

* That the PAC got $7,500 from Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar in the fall of 2014 and $6,500 of it went to Diamond State Consulting and $330 to Zim Creative of Russellville. Again these expenses were not administrative expenses, the complaint says, but campaign contributions in the form of mailers against two candidates for Fayetteville aldermen who had supported the nondiscrimination ordinance that the Duggars opposed. This could also amount to  unreported independent expenditures, the letter indicates.

Ethics Commission letters say there will be investigations of reports of Woods, Burris and Conservative Arkansas, which is based in Bella Vista and whose officers are currently listed as Rep. Jana Della Rosa,  Patsy Wootton, Edge Nowlin and Donna Brashears.

I've sought comments from Brashears, Della Rosa, Woods and Burris. In Ramsey's earlier article, the responses tended to be that those targeted saw the complaints as retaliation from the Conduit Arkansas political organization and its leaders Brenda Taylor and Joe Maynard, who have targeted Republicans who supported the private option Medicaid expansion. The Duggar matter was not covered previously, however.

I've had no responses so far, except from Burris, who pointed to his comment to Ramsey last month:

Joe and Brenda previously facilitated the filing of multiple complaints against myself and others. It's indicative of their desire to attack any person with whom they disagree. All of their previous complaints against me were dismissed, after thousands of taxpayer dollars spent investigating.This one will be as well. 
At this point, at least, it has not been dismissed.

The letter relative to the Jon Woods campaign. The letter relative to the John Burris campaign. The letter relative to Conservative Arkansas PAC.
Support for special health care reporting made possible by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

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