Confirmed: Lobbyists rounded up money for last night's legislative galas | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 20, 2015

Confirmed: Lobbyists rounded up money for last night's legislative galas

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 9:54 AM

As I'd indicated earlier, the Mullenix lobbying firm led fund-raising for the companion dinners held in Little Rock last night for Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang and House Speaker Jeremy Gilliam

Neither would tell me any details about the event except that it was hosted by the Republican Party of Arkansas, of which they are members. The Republican Party declined to answer my questions about financing. Multiple lobbyists have told me they were solicited to make contributions to the event as "sponsors."

They received an e-mail from Julie Mullenix that said:

From: Julie Mullenix
Date: February 23, 2015 at 11:18:58 AM CST
To: 'Julie Mullenix'
Subject: Senate Pro Tem and Speaker's Balls

On behalf of the Senate Pro Tem and Speaker’s Ball Committees, I have attached information for you about the 2015 Pro Tem and Speaker’s Ball Events. Please respond at your earliest convenience of your intent to participate.

These events are paid for by the 2015 Speaker’s Ball Committee and the 2015 Pro Tem Ball Committee, projects of the Republican Party of Arkansas. They are not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

The invite came with this attachment, which reveals that spouses of legislators also got a free brunch this morning as part of the deal:

dinner.jpg

I've asked several questions of Mullenix. The key one is this: Was the Ethics Commission asked for advice on the legality of laundering money through a special events committee and the Party as a means of paying to attend free receptions, dinner and brunch with legislators and spouses.

Mullenix and Associates has always relied heavily on wining and dining. They were the biggest opponents to the original flat no-exceptions gift rule and several legislators have suggested to me that they came up with the "planned activities" loophole that has been widely exploited this legislative session.

In February alone, Mullenix and Associates spent almost $8,000 on such events for lobbying clients: Blue Cross fed Senate Public Health at Brave New Restaurant ($986); Oaklawn Jockey Club fed House Rules at Cache ($1,173); Blue Cross fed Joint Public Health at Brave New Restaurant ($783); the Arkansas Realtors fed Joint Education at Cache ($1,301); Unisyn fed House State Agencies at Samantha's Woodfired Grill ($1,212); McDonald's fed a Capitol breakfast ($2,453); 

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