by Max Brantley
Democratic Chair Jason Willett isn't backing off his criticism of House Speaker Benny Petrus' ethics bill, particularly the part about how lowering campaign contribution limits will somehow work to the benefit of special interests. I don't follow his logic, but read his full response on the jump.
He makes no mention of his earlier criticism of the part of the legislation that allows the same man -- such as, say, his homey Bruce Burrow -- to give up to the limit to the same candidate from multiple corporations he might control.
UPDATE: Brummett's gone to blogging this and he has some worthy questions for Bruce Burrow's pal Mike Beebe on this topic. Like, which side are you really on, Bro. Mike? On this and other tough issues that inevitably find Beebe bobbing and weaving. He writes, addressing the guv:
Are you really for Petrus' bill, or not? And: Did you really object to Willett's dual role, or not? And: If your lame-duck party chairman blindsided you this way, what in tarnation do you intend to do about it? So far, governing has been easy for Beebe, cutting taxes and increasing spending. I'm wondering if we're not entering a new stage. Where is this governor -- really -- on ethics reform, considering that his best friends are out in the halls representing payday lenders and their 300 percent interest rates on poor people? And what'll he do on the gay foster care thing? Will he give us that campaign song-and-dance about how he knows from his fatherless childhood about the hardships on children from unconventional homes.
Chairman Jason Willett’s response to questions about his opposition to HB 2384
Two Main Points:
1) This legislation makes candidates more beholden to special interests.
2) This legislation, in effect, requires candidates to self-fund in order to be competitive.
This legislation makes candidates more beholden to special interests.
A meaningful television buy for two months in Little Rock costs just under $500,000. Unless a candidate can find 500 individuals to each write a $1000 check, they can’t frame their own message.
Arkansans would be stuck getting all of their information from special interest groups.
For every minute a candidate spends raising money, that’s one less minute they are spending talking to Arkansas voters.
This legislation, in effect, requires candidates to self-fund in order to be competitive.
Public service should not be limited to the very wealthy.
According to USA Today, the median household income in Arkansas in 2005 was $33,445.
- a statewide race in Arkansas now costs millions of dollars
- candidates in competitive races for the state legislature raise anywhere from $50,000 to $144,000
HB 2384 will limit the choices of Arkansas voters to being governed by only their wealthiest neighbors.