Can Arkansas be bought? 

The list grows of outside groups spending significant sums to win Republican control of the Arkansas legislature. Some of them:

THE KOCH BILLIONAIRES: The wealthy out-of-state industrialists have founded and/or financed just about every conservative organization you can name.

A key Koch group is Americans for Prosperity, which has a well-financed full-time operation in Arkansas. The group has sponsored a bus tour with a TV sitcom star, hired an Arkansas legislator's wife, developed social media and spent thousands on mass mailings aimed at defeating Democratic legislative candidates.

The AFP mailings are misleading. They paint Democrats as proponents of "Obamacare" and tax increases when they are not. They liberally use the photo of a black doctor to rile the racist voter.

The AFP message ties neatly into the message being pounded by the Arkansas Republican Party — cut taxes on the wealthy, cut environmental regulation, defeat expanded health care for Arkansans.

SIXTY PLUS: This secretive political organization is also sending mail to defeat Democrats.

The pharmaceutical industry formed this group to counter the AARP. But it has become a conservative Republican front across a range of issues, from the estate tax to health care. Its primary funding source is a mystery.

Why would 60 Plus be praising Republican Rep. Allen Kerr? His Democratic opponent, Barbara Graves, is a successful small businesswoman and former leader of the local chamber of commerce. Maybe because 60 Plus wants to wreck Social Security, among others. Perhaps it sees a kindred spirit in Allen Kerr, who's made a political career of targeting public retirement benefits. It may be no more than the simple fact that Kerr is a Republican in a race widely seen as a Democratic pickup and 60 Plus hopes to defeat the federal Affordable Care Act by backdoor roadblocks in the states if necessary:

GOD SQUAD: The Arkansas Faith and Freedom Coalition has also emerged as a shadowy mail attacker. It's affiliated with a Georgia-based organization founded by the discredited lobbyist Ralph Reed. It told the Democrat-Gazette it plans to spend around "six figures" beating Democratic legislative candidates. Sen. Gilbert Baker leads the Arkansas affiliate and other leaders include extremist Religious Righters with histories of opposing equal rights for gay people, including the ability to adopt children, as well as opposing women's ready access to abortion and contraception.

This group will prey, as Reed always has, on easily spooked evangelicals. For years, Republicans have laughed privately at these voters as uneducated rubes, while using their votes to dominate the South.

Important questions won't be answered. Who's contributing the money? How much are they contributing? How is it being spent? The groups won't say. They are "independent" organizations that carefully avoid so-called direct advocacy in their mailers. You'd have to be stupid, however, not to read their mail and know whose victory or defeat they are advocating.

The Democrats will fight back this year with money raised mostly in Arkansas and spent in a reportable way. Gov. Mike Beebe, whose popularity and fund-raising clout in the Arkansas corporate community produced the campaign kitty, has decried the outside influence, its secretiveness and, particularly, the AFP's recent TV campaign depicting Arkansas as a terrible place. The message is intended to counter Beebe's popularity with voters, who are supposed to realize they don't know how bad they have it.

If voters knew they were actually choosing between the agendas of Mike Beebe and pollution-friendly billionaires from the Midwest in legislative races, Republicans would face an uphill climb. The secretive mail campaigns (which haven't even peaked yet) don't put the choice in those terms, however.

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Most Shared

  • Michelle Duggar and the Family Council try to torpedo Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance with lies

    The Arkansas Family Council has enlisted Michelle Duggar to oppose a Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance with a fear-mongering robocall.
  • Fayetteville Council votes 6-2 for civil rights ordinance that protects gay, transgender people

    At 3:20 a.m. today, the Fayetteville City Council voted 6-2 to approve a historic civil rights ordinance that includes LGBT people in its umbrella of employment, housing and accommodation protections. The vote followed 10 hours of comment from 140 people and poignant testimony from gay and transgender people about discrimination they've experienced.
  • Train derailment in Hoxie kills 2; homes evacuated

    Two people were killed with two trains collided near Hwy. 67 early this morning, and State Police are evacuating residents of the southern end of the city while the trains burn. U.S. 67 south of Hoxie and U.S. 63 are closed. The trains were carrying hazardous chemicals.
  • Minimum wage group turns in nearly 70,000 additional signatures

    Give Arkansas a Raise Now, the group seeking to qualify a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017, turned in an additional 69,070 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office today.
  • American Bridge releases report on Koch brothers' environmental impacts and layoffs

    American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Little Rock: Where the gold rules and just about everybody is connected

    A Little Rock Board decision took a little more space than normal. Plus, it’s a good time for full personal disclosure.
    • Aug 12, 2014
  • Republicans: the scaredy-cat party

    The agenda of the rising Republican Party reflects the close of Carl Sandburg's poem about exceptionalism (and ignores the hubris). We are "the greatest nation. Nothing like us ever was." But if we are so great, why are they so scared?
    • Aug 7, 2014
  • Little Rock's nannies target clubbing

    Some shift workers don't knock off work until 11 p.m. A night of fun that ends at 11 p.m. for someone who had a 5 p.m. quitting time would end at 5 a.m. for the shift worker who gets off at 11 p.m. Entertainment in those hours, after Waffle House and EZ Mart, is limited. And it will soon be more limited if some city directors have their way.
    • Jul 31, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation