Arkansas hasn't always lived up to its motto, Regnat Populus (The People Rule), but there's a group of reformers who'd like to. The group calls itself, deservedly enough, Regnat Populus, and its goals are not only noble but well thought-out, which is not always a strong point with reformers.
Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel certified RP's proposed initiative to raise the ethical bar in Arkansas politics and government. McDaniel's action allows the proposal's supporters to begin collecting signatures to put the measure on the ballot at the 2014 general election. The proposed initiated act would prohibit corporations and unions from donating directly to candidates. (But not to political action committees. The U.S. Supreme Court has already said that corporate and union contributions to PACs are kosher.) It also would prohibit lobbyists from making gifts to legislators and the state constitutional officers, and would require that legislators be out of office for two years before they can become lobbyists.
The legislature, which convened this week, could take up these same issues and eliminate the need for the initiated act. It's possible that the legislators will in fact do something about lobbyists. But limits on corporate contributions are highly unlikely to get through. Corporations account for a big chunk of political contributions in this state, which is clear evidence that limits are needed.
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