Ethics Commission finds tree, misses forest | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ethics Commission finds tree, misses forest

Posted By on Sat, Feb 21, 2015 at 6:49 AM

click to enlarge NO-NO: Cop car in Steel ad.
  • NO-NO: Cop car in Steel ad.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that Nate Steel, the failed Democratic candidate for attorney general, had settled ethics complaints made by the Republican Party by paying $50 fines because a Nashville police car appeared in the background of a campaign commercial and because he didn't specify that his legal income included a contract payment from the city of Nashville for handling city legal business.

Rather than lawyer up and look for technical excuses, Steel said he would accept the finding and move on.

What's wrong with this picture?

Steel is guilty of an ethics violation.

The winning Republican, Leslie Rutledge, was unanimously cleared by this fastidious agency. What did she do? She merely coordinated with a dark money group whose finances aren't disclosed to appear in TV advertising that promoted her candidacy. Some $300,000 worth of TV advertising. This, the Commission decided, was NOT a contribution to her campaign and did not amount to electioneering for Leslie Rutledge. But a city police car in the background of a TV ad? That is unacceptable.

If this passes for smart ethics enforcement, abandon hope.

They'll probably give legislators a medal for continuing to take free meals and drinks from lobbyists at permanent cocktail parties despite the prohibition of gifts under new Amendment 94.

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