Democrats ask Hutchinson to put ethics legislation on session call | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Democrats ask Hutchinson to put ethics legislation on session call

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 7:23 AM

Senate Democrats have asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to put ethics legislation on his call for a special legislative session on other issues.

Hutchinson was noncommittal when asked about it yesterday. I noticed on Twitter an objection already from one Republican senator, Missy Irvin.

I'd predict there's no hunger among Republicans for ethics legislation now that they are in charge. The Democrats are doing what Republicans failed to do as the minority party — make ethics their campaign issue.

This is some sensible stuff:

* Repeal the mulligan rule on ethics violations that allows a candidate to claim an oversight on violations big and small and to correct illegal reporting after it has been called to their attention.

* Prohibit politicians from having multiple PACs (and thus essentially sidestep the $5,000 PAC contribution limit on the corporate money that funds these PACs. Now that individual corporate contributions are banned, the powerful legislators and governor are amassing big sums in PACs).

* Prohibit lobbyists loans to legislators — such as Sen Jake Files got from lobbyist Bruce Hawkins.

* Require financial reporting by dark money groups that have become major players in Arkansas elections.

As it now stands — based on control of power and recent reported abuses — these laws would have a negative impact primarily on Republicans. Which is why I don't expect to see them on a special session call. But the talk can't hurt.

Rep. Clarke Tucker thinks there's an opening, particularly, to require some disclosure on spending in state judicial races, which would be a giant step forward. If the governor is serious about his concern with dark money in judicial races, this is something he could do NOW.

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