Tim Griffin takes aim at severance tax | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tim Griffin takes aim at severance tax

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 4:15 PM

Tim Griffin, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is back on the local scene: On March 5, he established a group called Arkansas Coalition of Concerned Taxpayers (ACCT) to campaign against an increase in the natural gas severance tax. The group is registered with the Arkansas Ethics Commission as a Ballot Question Committee, which means it can spend money to defeat ballot initiatives.

Griffin said he has no plans to lobby against a tax increase in the legislature. Before ramping up its activity, the group will wait to see whether Gov. Mike Beebe’s gas-company approved proposal makes it through a special session.     

Registration documents for the group list Mark White, a Bryant attorney, as treasurer. Its stated mission is to "advocate the disqualification and/or defeat of any ballot question presented to increase severance or other taxes imposed on the exploration or production of oil or natural gas." Sheffield Nelson’s proposed initiative is, so far, the only proposal to meet this description. But Governor Beebe has said he might offer his own initiative if he doesn’t get his way on the severance tax in the legislature.   

Griffin said the idea for the group was his. While ACCT’s stated mission is to defeat a natural gas tax, the group might have other anti-tax uses in the future. “Going forward, I think there’s room for a voice in Arkansas on issues other than the severance tax addressing tax structure and wasteful spending,” Griffin said.

Griffin, a political appointee as interim U.S. attorney who resigned last June amid the broader U.S. attorneys' scandal in the Bush administration (critics said political considerations influenced a number of appointments), has been keeping a low profile of late. He currently works out of Little Rock for Mercury Public Affairs, a consulting firm based in New York.   

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