Favorite

Can Arkansas be bought? 

The list grows of outside groups spending significant sums to win Republican control of the Arkansas legislature. Some of them:

THE KOCH BILLIONAIRES: The wealthy out-of-state industrialists have founded and/or financed just about every conservative organization you can name.

A key Koch group is Americans for Prosperity, which has a well-financed full-time operation in Arkansas. The group has sponsored a bus tour with a TV sitcom star, hired an Arkansas legislator's wife, developed social media and spent thousands on mass mailings aimed at defeating Democratic legislative candidates.

The AFP mailings are misleading. They paint Democrats as proponents of "Obamacare" and tax increases when they are not. They liberally use the photo of a black doctor to rile the racist voter.

The AFP message ties neatly into the message being pounded by the Arkansas Republican Party — cut taxes on the wealthy, cut environmental regulation, defeat expanded health care for Arkansans.

SIXTY PLUS: This secretive political organization is also sending mail to defeat Democrats.

The pharmaceutical industry formed this group to counter the AARP. But it has become a conservative Republican front across a range of issues, from the estate tax to health care. Its primary funding source is a mystery.

Why would 60 Plus be praising Republican Rep. Allen Kerr? His Democratic opponent, Barbara Graves, is a successful small businesswoman and former leader of the local chamber of commerce. Maybe because 60 Plus wants to wreck Social Security, among others. Perhaps it sees a kindred spirit in Allen Kerr, who's made a political career of targeting public retirement benefits. It may be no more than the simple fact that Kerr is a Republican in a race widely seen as a Democratic pickup and 60 Plus hopes to defeat the federal Affordable Care Act by backdoor roadblocks in the states if necessary:

GOD SQUAD: The Arkansas Faith and Freedom Coalition has also emerged as a shadowy mail attacker. It's affiliated with a Georgia-based organization founded by the discredited lobbyist Ralph Reed. It told the Democrat-Gazette it plans to spend around "six figures" beating Democratic legislative candidates. Sen. Gilbert Baker leads the Arkansas affiliate and other leaders include extremist Religious Righters with histories of opposing equal rights for gay people, including the ability to adopt children, as well as opposing women's ready access to abortion and contraception.

This group will prey, as Reed always has, on easily spooked evangelicals. For years, Republicans have laughed privately at these voters as uneducated rubes, while using their votes to dominate the South.

Important questions won't be answered. Who's contributing the money? How much are they contributing? How is it being spent? The groups won't say. They are "independent" organizations that carefully avoid so-called direct advocacy in their mailers. You'd have to be stupid, however, not to read their mail and know whose victory or defeat they are advocating.

The Democrats will fight back this year with money raised mostly in Arkansas and spent in a reportable way. Gov. Mike Beebe, whose popularity and fund-raising clout in the Arkansas corporate community produced the campaign kitty, has decried the outside influence, its secretiveness and, particularly, the AFP's recent TV campaign depicting Arkansas as a terrible place. The message is intended to counter Beebe's popularity with voters, who are supposed to realize they don't know how bad they have it.

If voters knew they were actually choosing between the agendas of Mike Beebe and pollution-friendly billionaires from the Midwest in legislative races, Republicans would face an uphill climb. The secretive mail campaigns (which haven't even peaked yet) don't put the choice in those terms, however.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.
    • Jul 27, 2017
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Narrow opening for Arkansas Democrats

    "Somebody in this room — it's time to go big or go home." At the Democratic Party of Arkansas's Clinton Dinner last weekend, Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana used his platform as keynote speaker to embolden a candidate to step up to run for governor against incumbent Republican Governor Hutchinson.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation