Rutledge turns back amendment for stronger ethics | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 11, 2016

Rutledge turns back amendment for stronger ethics

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 5:59 PM

To no one's surprise, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has found multiple reasons to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to toughen ethics laws loosened by the legislature

Rutledge is a Republican. The majority Republican legislature drove ethics law changes that opened loopholes to continue lobbyist wining and dining; gave a free pass to ethics violations; and otherwise made a mockery of the ethics law voters thought they'd passed in 2014,

Here's Rutledge's opinion on the proposed form of the amendment to tighten gift rules, end corporate contributions to PACs and otherwise provide ethics rules voters thought — incorrectly — they were approving in 2014.

We wrote about the proposal earlier. Little Rock lawyer David Couch submitted it. He hasn't yet identified who's behind it, but some good government groups including remnants of an ethics campaign drive in 2014 likely will be associated with it if Rutledge will allow petitions to be gathered for good government.

She found the ballot title failed to summarize key aspects of the proposal. She focuses, among others, on the independent expenditures that have become such a poison in elections and which Couch hopes to at least bring under financial disclosure.  Rutledge finds "ambiguities," a favorite way for her to defeat ballot proposals that don't mesh with her politics. (Though she insists politics would never enter into it)

A "tort reform" amendment sailed onto the ballot, by contrast. But that's in keeping with A.G. politics.

Commented Couch:

I will address all the issues she has raised but what I can’t address will be “the ambiguities noted above are not necessarily all the ambiguities contained in your proposal.”

It just seems unfair that she does not include all the problems she sees the first time so that then can be addressed.
But if she did that, a tougher ethics proposal might start circulating. Worse still, it might reach the ballot and be approved by voters. Along with clean air, women's medical rights, equal rights for gay people and an open door to the courthouse for people injured by negligence, stronger ethics laws are not part of Rutledge's agenda.

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