The secret battle against the severance tax | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 16, 2012

The secret battle against the severance tax

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 7:24 AM

Stephens Media today reports that it can't find any prominent politicians in support of the proposal to raise the gas severance tax in Arkansas. Surprise. It's an election year. The money flows from the corporate interests, beginning with gas companies but including the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. They are fighting a tax sufficient to pay for the damage exploration is doing to state roads and environment.

Noted: The committee opposing the tax has already raised more than $813,000 (mostly from gas drillers, but including some token contributions from the royalty owners who've hit a goldmine with the Fayetteville shale play and apparently can't afford to pay a minuscule increase from their no-cost windfall to the state for loss of the resource) and spent more than $600,000. The Stephens empire and Southwestern energy have put in $400,000 each.

How have they spent the $600,000?

Thanks for asking.

It's another one of those campaigns in which the corporate lobbyists spit on public accountability. Their reports show they don't believe they have to follow spending disclosure practices that apply to political candidates. Here's the most recent report

You'll see the campaign accounted for more than $200,000 in spending in essentially five checks — nearly all for two things — an "education campaign" and "campaign management." The latter was a check to the Markham Group, which was the washing machine through which the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce laundered its spending on the Little Rock sales tax campaign and thus avoided disclosing how any of the money was spent specifically. The Ethics Commission signed off reluctantly on this practice in response to my complaint. The staff found an ethics violation, but the commission itself said its hands were tied by poor drafting of the statute and members said they hoped to correct it in 2013. Meanwhile, you'll see no do-right behavior from the fat cats with voluntary specific disclosure. They love their secrecy.

The Markham Group laughably said during the Ethics Commission's hearing that its spending on radio stations, mailers and other nuts and bolts of campaign spending amounted to "proprietary information." Be sure that the same fat cats in charge of this campaign will fight tooth and nail to preserve secret political campaigns in the 2012 legislature.

Rep. Dorothy Jane English, a Republican, has said she'd fix this little charade if elected to the Senate. I wonder, given the tactic's use in the corporate and politically popular severance tax fight, if she'll stick with that promise?

PS — In case you missed it, here's Ernest Dumas' column about how Sheffield Nelson is right in pushing for the tax increase and the corporate lobbyists aren't telling you the truth.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

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

  • EPA chief Pruitt in Arkansas pushing end to clean air and water rules

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was in Little Rock today and touted his effort to loosen clean air and water rules at a meeting at the Don and Randal Tyson Conference Center at the Arkansas Poultry Federation.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Something else for Little Rock to live down

    Think Progress expects John Bush, a Little Rock native who practices law in Lousiville, to be confirmed as a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals judge in a party line 51-48 vote this afternoon. Sad!
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Homicide victim a Little Rock newcomer

    Little Rock police have identified the latest city homicide victim as Samuel "Chris" Gilmore, 19. His body was found late Monday night in the 4800 block of W. 14th. Police said he had just moved to Little Rock from Texas.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Judge Griffen: Why black lives matter

    Another few words from Judge Wendell Griffen growing from the controversy over the sale of Black Lives Matter T-shirts at the state black history museum — removed by the administration and restored after protests from Griffen and others stirred by a story in the Arkansas Times:
    • Mar 13, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

  • French Hill gets a prominent mention in Russian intrigue

    The lede of a Politico article on Russian intrigue is perhaps not an ideal place for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock to find himself:
  • Faulkner County investigating sexual harassment complaint

    At the urging of the Faulkner County Quorum Court, Prosecuting Attorney Cody HIland will undertake what he calls a civil investigation of complaints of sexual harassment against Shelia Bellott, who oversees four employees as director of the county's emergency management office.
  • Something else for Little Rock to live down

    Think Progress expects John Bush, a Little Rock native who practices law in Lousiville, to be confirmed as a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals judge in a party line 51-48 vote this afternoon. Sad!
  • Former city director seeking work at city hall

    Eric Besson of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported a piece of Little Rock City Hall business this morning about what appears to be a case of Mayor Mark Stodola creating some part-time work for former City Director Brad Cazort.
  • Homicide victim a Little Rock newcomer

    Little Rock police have identified the latest city homicide victim as Samuel "Chris" Gilmore, 19. His body was found late Monday night in the 4800 block of W. 14th. Police said he had just moved to Little Rock from Texas.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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