by Max Brantley
Mike Hathorn, one of four Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, has followed through as promised and filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission against opponent Bill Halter (not coincidentally the best-funded candidate in the race and not coincidentally making strong inroads in polling on account of his heavy TV buys.)
Hathorn believes Halter has committed dozens of violations of campaign finance laws by fund transfers among separate campaign committees. Halter initially had an exploratory committee for a race for office, then a committee for a run for governor, which he abandoned, and finally a committee for the lieutenant governor's race. Halter insists emphatically that he's followed the rules on reporting and money transfers and paints Hathorn's complaint as a way to milk free media coverage to salvage a faltering campaign. Said a Hathorn release:
Upon reviewing the numerous reports from each of the above [seven] mentioned campaign entities, a number of legal and ethical questions, totaling what I believe could be as many as 154 violations of the Arkansas rules on campaign finance and disclosure laws, have emerged. I hereby request that the Arkansas Ethics commission investigate each of the following actions to discover if Mr. Halter has violated the Arkansas Rules on Campaign Finance and Disclosure.
Hathorn also sent the material to Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley. Jegley said the record is "disturbing, if true." But he said he had just begun studying the material compiled by Hathorn and it was too soon to say what, if any, action he might take.
UPDATE: Response from Bud Jackson of the Halter campaign:Mike Hathorn's desperate actions today represents all that is wrong with politics today. Unlike what Mike Hathorn has falsely stated, Bill Halter has been returning contributions for weeks. Well over $300,000 has already been returned and by the end of April more than $600,000 will have been returned. This is a shameless political stunt that has now reached new lows. Mike Hathorn should be ashamed of himself. Arkansas voters are rightfully begining to question his maturity, temperament, lack of substance and judgment. They are now legitimate causes for concern in Mike Hathorn's candidacy for lieutenant governor. If Mike Hathorn spent more time talking about important issues and less time on political stunts, he might actually have a position paper or two on his website.