Ethics Commission keeps sales tax complaint alive | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ethics Commission keeps sales tax complaint alive

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I had my closed session with the Arkansas Ethics Commission this morning on my complaint that the Committee for Little Rock's Future hadn't adequately disclosed expenses on supporting a recent sales tax increase. The Commission decided not to dismiss my complaint.

The sales tax committee initially reported only checks issued to the Markham Group, a consulting firm, though later amended the report to report spending in broad categories — postage, campaign workers, advertising — but not specific amounts to specific recipients. About $200,000 was spent in the campaign.

I told the Ethics Commission that I was sure the Committee believed it followed the law. I also said I was making no implication about improper expenses by the committee. But I said a decision that allowed this or any committee for ballot questions to funnel money through an intermediary — here it was a reputable consulting firm, but that might not always be the case — would be an invitation to abuse. I said the law intended for campaign committees to make the same sorts of specific disclosures required of political candidates, though the statutory language is a little cloudy.

The Commission deliberated in private after my appearance with Buckley O'Mell, treasurer for the committee. (It developed in the Ethics Commission review, by the way, that the commitee was essentially administered out of the offices of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce). After private deliberations of the Commission, I was informed the complaint was not dismissed. That's the extent of what complainants may be told after such a private session — dismissed or not dismissed. Further Commission inquiry could lead to a finding of probable cause of a rules violation or some other resolution of a matter under debate.

I take today's decision as a hopeful sign that the Commission will seek to find a way to encourage more disclosure. An easy fix in this case would be for the Commission to ask the Committee for a report on expenses and for the Committee to agree to provide it. That outcome would set an important precedent statewide for accountability.

FOR EXAMPLE: The committee hoping to get Arkansas voters to approve borrowing money to sell bonds for highway construction has raised more than $260,000 (contractors mostly) and reports spending more than $27,000, but discloses payments to only one person, Craig Douglass, for a variety of services.

Tags: , , ,


Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Follow the legislative freebies to legislative action

    Freebies galore on tap for lawmakers today, notwithstanding the alleged ethics amendment that voters thought would end free lobby wining and dining. And don't think this is just about socializing. Health care, software, corporate welfare and more figure in.
    • Feb 19, 2019
  • GOP offers no apologies for Brandt Smith's racial remark

    KATV followed up on responses to the Democratic Party's call for apologies for Republican Rep. Brandt Smith's ugly remark about Democratic Rep. Charles Blake after Blake introduced legislation to redefine the symbols on the Arkansas flag to omit the Confederacy. In short: No apologies.
    • Feb 19, 2019
  • Little Rock School District (J. Key prop.) faulted for dyslexia services

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports a state Education Department audit has found the Little Rock School District has been providing woefully inadequate help for students with dyslexia. So who's to blame?
    • Feb 19, 2019
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Is Arkansas in or out on Kobach voter data effort?

    The Washington Post has published a map that counts Arkansas as among states that will "partially comply" with a sweeping request for voter data by the so-called election integrity commission set up by Donald Trump in an effort to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote popular defeat of him in 2016.
    • Jul 2, 2017
  • Rep. Mary Bentley's website now supports gay rights

    Somebody has cybersquatted on Republican Rep. Mary Bentley's website, replacing her messaging with a call for equal rights for LGBTQ people.
    • Jul 18, 2017
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes White House press secretary

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is the new White House press secretary.
    • Jul 21, 2017

Slideshows

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation