Rutledge again rejects wording of ethics amendment | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rutledge again rejects wording of ethics amendment

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has again rejected the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment submitted by Little Rock lawyer David Couch to counteract all the loopholes the legislature put into the last ethics amendment.

Rutledge said Couch's ballot title doesn't sufficiently inform voters of the consequences of the amendment.

Funny. I thought the same thing when Rutledge zipped onto the ballot, if sufficient signatures are gathered, a proposal aimed at making hard for people harmed or killed by health care negligence and malpractice to sue. She approved a ballot title that doesn't begin to inform voters of the ill consequences, including the very specific end of punitive damages for bad actors. Rutledge had support from the nursing industry. Good government people don't have a lobby. So Couch is having a hard time while the nursing home lobby is AOK.

To pick my own nits from just one bit of Rutledge nitpicking:

Article 19, Section 30(a) of the Arkansas Constitution currently prohibits certain officials from accepting gifts from lobbyists. However, a voter might logically conclude from your proposed popular name—“An Amendment to Prohibit Lobbyists Gifts”—that there currently is no prohibition on gifts from lobbyists. The popular name you have proposed is therefore misleading in this respect. 
Rutledge is simply wrong. The Constitution prohibits gifts, but the legislature added exceptions and they take gifts daily — ice cream cones today to name one small example. Couch would flatly prohibit them.

She also, for example, says it is inaccurate for Couch to say that a ban on corporate contributions is inaccurate because it includes LLCs, limited liability COMPANIES. Whose existence you'll find in the corporate register of the secretary of state, BTW.

Similarly, Rutledge contends Couch's requirement for reporting contibutors to independent electioneering is some redundant to existing reporting requirements. Again, I think she's dishonestly represented this issue. Groups that run "informational" ads that are clearly intended to influence elections but avoid direct language need not report sources of money or amounts spent. Couch aims at this disclosure. It was just such dark money spending that helped Rutledge get elected so you can see where sunlight might send her running like a cockroadch.

It's easy to conclude this is a putup job — that Rutledge doesn't want this amendment on the ballot in any shape or form.

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