Arkansas legislators junketing | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Arkansas legislators junketing

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

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Sen. Scott Flippo
and Sen.-elect Linda Collins-Smith are off ijunketing, according to a Collins-Smith tweet, getting used by the Foundation for Government Accountability, yet another one of the right-wing advocacy groups that plies willing state legislators with cookie-cutter bills to advance its right-wing agenda.

A number of Arkansas legislators are also just back from an ALEC confab, a leading right-wing legislation tank with Koch money roots.

It is a good time for a reminder that payments by lobbyists or by groups that employ lobbyists are now prohibited under Arkansas law (Issue 3). There are exceptions, including:

Payments by regional or national organizations for travel to regional or national conferences at which the State of Arkansas is requested to be represented by a person or persons elected or appointed to an office under subsection (a) of this section; 

So. Legislators certainly may always attend an ALEC or FGA conference at their own expense. They may also attend with travel reimbursements if the state has been requested to be represented. But one of the drafters of Issue 3 says — and there's no language to the contrary — that travel means travel. Not hotel rooms. Not food. Not cocktails.

A knowing violation of the amendment is a misdemeanor crime. I've sent messages to Flippo, already in the Senate, and Collins-Smith, not yet sworn in, about their arrangements for this conference. They are typically uncommunicative, however. Though Collins-Smith hasn't been sworn in Issue 3 covers those "elected" to the office, which several lawyers believe means it applies on election. Otherwise, lobbyists could smother winners with gifts before they took office.

Furthermore, David Couch tells me, lawyers don't think national groups mentioned in the amendment is pass to take trips from essentially lobby/special interest groups such as the FGA.

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