Campaign account boodling | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Campaign account boodling

Posted By on Wed, Apr 16, 2008 at 6:09 AM

There was an excellent story in the Democrat-Gazette today by Seth Blomeley about state Rep. Robbie Wills' use of his 2008 re-election campaign account (he's unopposed), beginning midway through 2007, on expenditures in his race to be House speaker. He says it's legal to give gifts to other legislators, spend money to return from vacation outings, etc.

Maybe it's legal.

But it stinks. If the law allows this kind of boodling, the law is an ass. Campaign funds should be legally only for election expenses. Other than filing fees and expenses incurred for election before he knew he'd be unopposed, Wills shouldn't have leeway to spend unlimited amounts during his unopposed election year on his speaker's race simply because he declares it enhances his electability as representative. How much help does an unopposed candidate need?

I'd note that the campaign finance law, which is already too lenient in other respects, allows public officials to retain excess campaign funds after an election only up to the limit of the official's salary. In that case, Wills would be limited after the election is over to convertomh $15,000 or so to personal use in future campaigns. He's spent in excess of that on his personally aggrandizing quest to be speaker. It is essentially a personal expenditure. It is by no fair interpretation an election expenditure.

Again: What's needed is a popular initiative to close loopholes like these in Arkansas law. With the leader of the House as a guide, every unopposed member of the legislature (most of them) can feel free to spend freely of unneeded campaign funds and claim anything they spend that enhances their stature is, effectively, enhancing their electablity, opponent or no.

My wished-for initiative also would end the provision for use of any excess campaign funds for future races and contributions to charitable causes other than refund to contributors. It should also end gift-giving to lawmakers, period, including of the sort Wills engaged in. It should end lobbyist wining and dining.

None of this is likely to happen. The cause needs a politically potent champion. Gov. Mike Beebe won't champion this one. He needs and works well with the lobby. He won't end the petty graft on which so many of them depend. And now the leader of the House has taken a page from the lobbyists' payola handbook. Monkey see, monkey do.

PS: Is this a case for gadfly Jim Parsons? Using campaign money to facilitate ease of travel sure seems a far cry from a legitimate campaign expense. I'm reminded that the Ethics Commission wrote up former Gov. Mike Huckabee for using a handful of copy paper for a campaign event. That's worse than this?

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016
  • Today in Trump: Obstruction of justice anyone?

    It's the New York Times with the news today. Fired FBI Director James Comey kept notes of his talks with Donald Trump. A memo he wrote in February after a meeting with Trump said the president asked him to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.
    • May 16, 2017
  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas-linked Charlottesville marcher identified, apologizes to those misidentified

    A man who says he's a former University of Arkansas student now living in New England has identified himself as the person wearing an "Arkansas Engineering" T-shirt in the Friday white supremacist march in Fayetteville. He apologized for involving UA in the story and to the professor misidentified as being the person wearing the shirt.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation