Sunshine Week: Learn about money in Arkansas politics next week with SPJ | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sunshine Week: Learn about money in Arkansas politics next week with SPJ

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 3:28 PM

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Point of personal privilege. Next week, I'll be moderating an event organized by the Arkansas Society of Professional Journalists and Arkansas Public Media to discuss campaign finance, electioneering spending and dark money in Arkansas.

It's at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 14 at the state Capitol in the Old Supreme Court Chamber. You can RSVP to this Facebook event, contact me or Sarah Whites-Koditschek of APM, or just show up.

The confirmed speakers are state Reps. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) and Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), who have separately sponsored bills to make campaign contributions and independent expenditures more transparent. We'll also be joined by Alicia Bannon, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, a policy institute at the New York University School of Law that advocates for transparency in elections. UPDATE: Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) will also be joining our panel.

The event is a part of Sunshine Week, a national initiative dedicated to freedom of the press and open government.

Della Rosa's House Bill 1427, which is now Act 318, will require candidates for public office to file their campaign contribution reports electronically, rather than on paper. Doing so will create a searchable database that will allow the public much improved access to information on who is giving to whom in Arkansas elections. Tucker's House Bill 1005 would require disclosure of "electioneering communications," meaning advertisements that dodge campaign finance disclosure laws by not telling the public explicitly to vote "for" or "against" a candidate. (Think those campaign season ads that say "Call Candidate X and tell him to stop supporting terrorism.") Tucker's bill was voted down in committee Tuesday but may return. The Brennan Center has reported on the astronomical levels of outside spending in Arkansas's Supreme Court elections in 2016.

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