Out-of-state special interest money flows into a race for mayor in Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Out-of-state special interest money flows into a race for mayor in Arkansas

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 2:29 PM

click to enlarge CARPETBAGGING: Out of state money is paying for mailers like this one in the race for Bentonville mayor.
  • CARPETBAGGING: Out of state money is paying for mailers like this one in the race for Bentonville mayor.

I've written before about the D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee, which is spending more than a million dollars to elect a fellow Republican, David Sterling, to a nominally nonpartisan seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court over Justice Courtney Goodson. I learned this week that the organization's interest extends down to the mayor of Bentonville, a nonpartisan office.

So far, I think it fair to call this dark money. As of 2 p.m. today, there's no record on file in Arkansas of money received or spent by that committee on the race for mayor.. But it is credited on multiple mailings supporting Webb in the five-way race for Bentonville mayor.

Coincidentally, Webb's being helped in his campaign by political consultant Teresa Crossland Oelke, once a key operative in the Koch-financed political machine. The Koch forces know about dark and opaque money and its value in influencing races from the Arkansas legislature up.  Down, too, apparently.

I can't wangle anything out of an RSLC spokesman about their particular interest in Jim Webb. He said they do NOT earmark contributions. That is, he means to say that some fat cat couldn't write his organization a big check with the idea it could be transferred into spending on the Webb race. It is true that it is perfectly legal in Arkansas to spend any amount in "independent" expenditures whereas contributions to candidate campaigns are limited and corporate contributions are prohibited. Not so with the RSLC. They report contributions, many if not most from corporations, to the IRS. If you happen to have a computer and know how to find the filings, you'd learn their big givers include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Tobacco, drug companies, payday lenders, Koch Industries and so on.

In September, the organization reported $6.6 million in contributions and more than $4 million in expenditures.

The RSLC filed a 35-day pre-election report that showed no spending in Arkansas. A report is due today for spending up to 10 days before the election. I'll keep checking Secretary of State Mark Martin's buggy on-line financial disclosure portal.

UPDATE: The RSLC filed its reporting in Arkansas today. It has poured $41,587 into Webb's campaign for mayor. No itemization as to source except from the RSLC. It's paid for direct mail, billboards and digital ads. That's a whopping amount for a mayor's race.

Meanwhile, here's Webb's own description of his priorities. You might notice similarities with the RSLC mailer. I guess the RSLC studied up before composing its ad in support of him.

Make sure the city spends your hard-earned tax dollars wisely.

Reduce unnecessary red tape and find common sense solutions.

Ensure our first responders have the resources to keep our streets safe.

Grow SMART, with investments in our roads.
Webb, a former City Council member, faces City Council member Stephanie Orman; retiree Terry Shannon, John Skaggs, a retired judge, and barber Charlie Turner.

UPDATE: Webb raised more money than other candidates combined in direct contributions. Heavy on Walton-related sources, according to NWA D-G.

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