Sleuthing the Beebe coronation contributions | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sleuthing the Beebe coronation contributions

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 2:13 PM

People not ready to crown Gov. Mike Beebe as the greatest thing since Grapette encourage me to consider further research on nonprofit contributors to the Arkansas Democratic Party around the time of his 2006 and 2010 inaugural festivities.

It's a complaint worth considering, even if none of the record sleuths demonstrated similar vigor in examining the finances of the Huckabee inaugurals, including outlays of cash for garb and jewels for the First lady.

Anyway, you've heard before that the University of Arkansas Foundation contributed to Beebe (not, the UA says, to the Democratic Party itself, but to the governor's inaugural committee). They were not the only 501C3 organization (a tax-exempt organization that can receive deductible contributions under the tax code) to contribute. This could be problematic, though ultimately the IRS or a court would have to decide and the UA says its counsel believes its contribution fell within the law. The attorney general of Arkansas, whose opinion is only advisory, has said that contributions to inaugural events constitute political contributions. 501C3 organizations can lose their tax-exempt status and be forced to pay penalties if they engage in political activity. Is buying a ticket to an inaugural ball a political activity or lobbying in the eyes of the IRS? Strictly speaking, maybe not. But maybe so, if profit from ticket sales flows to political campaigns.

In any case, the sleuths have questioned these contributions to the Democratic party in late 2010 or early 2011:

The University of Arkansas Foundation, $10,000 (in two $5,000 payments)
Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges, $2,000
Arkansas Governor's Commission on People with Disabilities $600
Northwest Arkansas Communithy College Foundation, $150
University of Central Arkansas Foundation, $2,000

In 2006

Community Health Centers of Arkansas, $10,000
City of Blytheville Waterworks, $2,500
Osceola Municipal Light & Power, $2,500
The University of Arkansas Foundation $2,000

Only the organizations related to colleges were 501c3s at the time of the contributions. The Community Health Center is now, but was not in 2006, when it reported on lobbying forms its expenditure on inaugural ball tickets. It draws attention, as do the government agencies listed, because of the significant taxpayer money it receives to operate health centers around the state. Critics' point seems to be that people depending on government money shouldn't be spending money to lobby government.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I think it's possible these contribution citations come from on-line data sources as opposed to the original documents and they could be subject to error. UA records indicate only a single $5,000 contribution to the inaugural in 2010 and no contribution in 2006. Perhaps that $2,000 in 2006 should have been recorded as also from 2010 contributor UCA, then a $2,000 giver.

Commentary follows:

I'd be surprised to find a public agency of any size that doesn't employ someone, or multiple someones, to lobby the legislature. It's an issue, no doubt about it. But I'd suggest to those seeking to make a mountain out of, say, the Community Health Center's seemingly legal contribution six years ago that it's a far larger issue than fudging IRS rules by buying tickets to a dance.

The bigger issue is the millions spent by corporate Arkansas to influence the legislature and governor every single day and to support the likes of ALEC, which churns out corporate-friendly legislation for compliant legislators. We could strike a small blow against this pernicious influence by passing the Regnat Populus 2012 measure to end wining and dining of legislators. We could also strike a blow against misuse of public money by legislating specific prohibitions to uphold the constitutional proscription on public expenditures on private corporations. Beebe's critics worry about money given to him from private corporations. I'm worried about government money being given TO private corporations. I'd like to see an end of direct taxpayer subsidies to chambers of commerce and similar economic development agencies around the state. I suspect the partisan critics of Beebe inaugural ticket buyers would find common cause with the governor AGAINST this sensible idea, however.

Still, yes. University foundations shouldn't be used to make politically tinged contributions, clearly in behalf of the public agencies they represent, even if it's legal. Water and power customers shouldn't shoulder the cost of paying tribute to a governor. Or a chamber of commerce either.

Tags: , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Where's the outrage?

    Am I the only person, apart from federal prosecutors, outraged about the criminal enterprise that inveigled itself into a privileged position as an Arkansas taxpayer-financed human services provider to the tune, today, of $43 million a year?
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Where's the outrage?

    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Rutledge opponent hits her socializing with corporate interests

    Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has criticized Attorney General Leslie Rutledge over recent reports of her participation at private meetings where corporate interests make big contributions to a political group she heads for access to state legal officers.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel applauds Trump's EPA choice of climate change denier Scott Pruitt

    Dustin McDaniel gives the thumbs up to a man set to dismantle EPA regulations.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017

Most Viewed

  • Proposed child holding site in Arkansas 5 miles from WWII Japanese-American internment camp

    One big difference between Rohwer and today: The parents kept at Rohwer in World War II weren't separated from their children.
  • Baby gorilla born at zoo

    The Little Rock Zoo has a happy announcement: The birth of a healthy baby gorilla. The baby, whose sex has not been determined, was born to Sekani, who came to the zoo in 2004 from Toronto; her baby is her third. The father of the baby is a silverback, Kivu, and he is being "very attentive" to his first child, the zoo reports. Kivu came to the zoo in 2016 from Santa Barbara.
  • Walton Family Foundation grants for ’17: $535.5 million

    The Walton Family Foundation made grants totaling $535.5 million in 2017, $96 million more than it did in 2016.
  • All in the family: Ten relatives of top executives were on payroll at PFH, the nonprofit troubled by corruption scandals

    Preferred Family Healthcare, the Medicaid-enriched nonprofit with a vast network of service providers in Arkansas that gobbles up tens of millions of dollars in state funding annually, has been in the news frequently this year because of its connection to multiple federal corruption cases. According to the most recently available tax filings, in 2015 ten family members of top executive were on the payroll, drawing salaries from PFH — including relatives of all four of the executives who were put on leave in the wake of the scandals. Three of these family members were making more than $100,000.
  • Man fleeing troopers loses them, then crashes, dies

    The Arkansas State Police say that a man who had fled from state troopers during a Lonoke County traffic stop this morning later died in a head-on crash on Interstate 40 west of Forrest City.

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation