Election over, but ethics complaints linger | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Election over, but ethics complaints linger

Posted By on Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 7:39 AM

click to enlarge COORDINATOIN: Republican candidates assemble in Jonesboro with support from independent campaign group, a combine challenged before the Ethics Commission.
  • COORDINATOIN: Republican candidates assemble in Jonesboro with support from independent campaign group, a combine challenged before the Ethics Commission.
The Republican election sweep is done, but questions linger before the Ethics Commission about a rise in coordination between political candidates and independent political organizations.

One is the obvious coordination between Leslie Rutledge, the winning candidate for attorney general, who appeared in ads helping her candidacy by a dark money national group. State law is looser than federal law on campaign coordination, but as I've noted before, if an independent group's TV ad featuring the candidate is not viewed by the Ethics Commission as a contribution to a candidate's campaign, we will have seen the end of any meaningful regulation of campaign contributions and spending.

Democratic campaign consultant Jason Willett of Jonesboro writes to assure me that he'll be pursuing his complaint related to the Conduit for Action and Commerce in Action, related political groups that worked heavily in the sweep of Republican candidates in Jonesboro that turned out Democratic incumbents in favor of Tea Party-style Republicans. The initial complaint was over actions in support of Brandt Smith, who ousted Rep. Harold Copenhaver

Willett has compiled several videos of news conferences at which Brenda Vassaur Taylor of the Conduit groups appears and is thanked by the local Republican candidates for her help. One video, from which the still is taken, features a news conference at which anti-private option senators Gary Stubblefield, Scott Flippo, Terry Rice, Bryan King, Cecile Bledsoe and others participate.

Willett says he has further complaints in the works about the coordinated activity, including against Stubblefield, who's said he will mount  a challenge to Sen. Jonathan Dismang for Senate leadership. Willett's view is that it doesn't look too good for a would-be leader to be dancing around the ethics law so blatantly.

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