Running on ethics | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Running on ethics

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM

For years, I encouraged Mike Huckabee and other Republicans to adopt an ethics banner, since the ruling Democrats wouldn't. End the revolving door to the lobby. End freebies from lobbyists and others. Tighten campaign financing. Increase disclosure. Nobody wanted to rock the boat too much. Some had their own reasons for being easy on ethics (Huckster, anyone?)

So I should give a bow to Rep. Jonathan Dismang, seeking to move to the Senate, who says he'll obey the House rule that flatly prohibits campaign fund-raising during a legislative session. Democrats, including Speaker Wills, a congressional candidate, are spoiling to re-interpret the rule to say it only applies to state House elections.

My bet is that Dismang will still be able to raise all the money he needs for his election challenges. He probably won't face a primary opponent, as, for example, Wills certainly will. So his gesture doesn't amount to unbridled courage. Still, any gesture in the right direction is worth noting. He can prove his mettle by endorsing an end to lobby entertainment. Legislate the Wal-Mart rule for dealing with vendors. Not even a cup of coffee.

News release

Members of the Arkansas State House of Representatives have had a recent change of heart regarding campaign fundraising during the upcoming legislative session.  While initially it was believed that an internal House rule banned all members from accepting contributions during this year’s first ever fiscal session, it seems several house leaders have decided to reinterpret that rule.
 
These Representatives have decided that the rule only forbids fundraising if you are running for re-election to the Arkansas House of Representatives.  They believe it is suitable to raise money if you are seeking a different office or position.
 
However, some legislators see things differently, including Rep. Jonathan Dismang who is seeking a seat in the State Senate.
 
“I originally voted to restrict any member from fundraising during the session and I will stand by that vote” said Dismang.  “I understand that my stance could provide any potential opponent with an advantage, but I also understand that any advantage they might receive wouldn't outweigh the appearance of impropriety created by a sitting legislator collecting campaign contributions during this time.”
 
It is believed by most that this fiscal session will be about cutting the state’s budget.  Several state contractors, who are typically heavy political contributors, could be included in those cuts said Dismang. “In this type of climate, I feel it is especially important that we distance ourselves from what could be perceived as improper influence and direction.”
 
When asked why he thought other House members have decided to accept contributions, Dismang stated “I think their reinterpretation is more about political expediency rather than doing what is appropriate.”

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