The money pit | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The money pit

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2006 at 4:04 PM

Gunner DeLay digs into Dustin McDaniel's contributions today and finds something we noted months ago -- Jonesboro developer Bruce Burrow's multiple contributions to McDaniel through family and corporate entitiies.

Burrow is not the only fat cat to engage in this tactic. Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson both have enjoyed multiple contributions from an essentially singular source. Generally the practice is legal, though DeLay raises a question about whether one McDaniel contribution is from a going concern. But DeLay is dead right about the larger issue. The practice  blows a gaping hole in the state's supposed campaign contribution limits. We should ban corporate contributions, as many states do, to clean up the problem.

DeLay, since he doesn't have much money, might be one of the few candidates willing to take such a step. Ditto Jim Holt. But in a legislature where three-fourths or more of the members knocked down pieces of the  $100,000 in contributions from multiple entities tied to Ted Suhl of the Lord's Ranch, Medicaid's best friend, you're not likely to stir much legislative support.

DeLay notes, too, that Burrow is a chief beneficiary of legislation sponsored by McDaniel that makes it easier to give taxpayer subsidies to shopping center developers like Burrow. Smells like quid pro quo. We'd like it even more if DeLay would say he's read the Constitution and thinks McDaniel's legislation is unconstitutional, insofar as it takes money voted in school taxes to help Bruce Burrow and his ilk put competitors out of business.

Full news release on the jump.

DeLay Questions McDaniel’s Contributions from Developer

Little Rock – Today, republican candidate for attorney general raised questions about contributions his opponent has received from Jonesboro developer, Bruce Burrow, and said the relationship between the two men only demonstrates the need for serious campaign finance reform.  He also noted that one contribution McDaniel received from a defunct corporation owned by Burrow may be illegal.

DeLay commented that, “it is well known that McDaniel was the lead sponsor of a bill that amended existing TIF legislation that benefited developers such as Bruce Burrow.  The bill  greatly expanded the ability of TIF districts to condemn private property for redevelopment.  That should be a concern to all Arkansans.  However, of even more concern is the fact that McDaniel has received at least $15,000.00 in contributions from Burrow and his family, as well as companies Burrow has an interest in. It sure has the appearance of quid pro quo politics.“

DeLay pointed out that McDaniel’s campaign finance reports show the following contributions”

6/30/05     Bruce Burrow     $1000.00
6/30/05     Sherry Burrow    $1000.00
10/27/05   Bruce Burrow      $1000.00
6/30/06      Bruce Burrow     $1000.00
6/30/06      Sherry Burrow    $1000.00
2/28/06     The Development Group (Bruce Burrow officer)  $2000.00
2/28/06      Realty Associates Brokerage (Bruce Burrow officer)  $2000.00
3/28/06      Belz-Burrow Development Group 9Bruce Burrow officer) $2000.00
2/26/06      MBC Holdings (Bruce Burrow officer)  $2000.00
2/21/06      Corporate Furnishings Inc.  (Bruce Burrow officer)  $2000.00

DeLay pointed out that Corporate Furnishings Inc. (CFI) was dissolved by the Arkansas Secretary of State in 1997 and has no phone listing in the Jonesboro area where its last known address was.  DeLay said, “ the CFI contribution may be illegal if the company is not a going business concern.  If it is nothing more than an account bearing the name Corporate Furnishings then the money given would be attributed to Mr. Burrow individually and he would have exceeded the $2000.00 contribution limit.  Both Burrow and McDaniel need to explain the facts concerning this contribution.” 

DeLay said even if there is an explanation for the CFI contribution, it still shows that need for reform.   “The intent behind contribution limits is to keep one person or interest from trying to buy the election for their candidate.  Mr. Burrow is obviously trying to circumvent the intent of that law by funneling contributions to Mr. McDaniel from various companies he owns. If elected I want to revisit the contribution limit law to prevent closely held corporations from shifting money around so individuals can do indirectly what they cannot do directly.”
DeLay also stated that the CFI contribution issue was also further evidence of the need for a Public Integrity Unit in the attorney general’s office.  He said the Ethics Commission can only take action if a formal complaint is filed.  The PIU could do an investigation on it own and subpoena records to see if a violation of the law has occurred.   
“Such an investigation could be done with CFI in this case to see how a dissolved corporation made a political contribution.”    

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