by Max Brantley
How low does the Koch-billions-founded Americans for Prosperity go in fighting the election of candidates who might not readily agree with the air-fouling agendas of their energy companies? At least as low as a race for Arkansas legislature.
AFP has distributed an expensive mailer in Little Rock to fight the candidacy of Carolyn Staley for House District 32. Reason: She hasn't pledged to fight federal cap-and-trade legislation, which doesn't happen to be on the Arkansas legislative agenda. Republican nomineeRep. Allen Kerr can be counted on to oppose anything progressive — including, as he demonstrated in the last session, a statewide trauma system and including health coverage for children of working poor people. He happily gives the Koch boys whatever they want. (What's next for the Kochs, Midland School Board?)
Staley says, quite reasonably, that she's making no pledges on legislation that hasn't been proposed for the Arkansas legislature (and in this case, won't be.) But she also knows that the legislation the Koch hates has bipartisan support in Congress, was part of George W. Bush energy legislation and is about clean air.
Koch money turns up in a number of other places on PAC and independent expenditure committee reports now turning up at the Capitol. It's hidden behind a variety of veils generally, though Koch Industries has contributed directly to some PACs. An independent committee spending money to elect Republican state legislators has, for example, a $30,000 contribution from a Virginia front group, which, if custom holds, is a mail drop.
The mailing was designed to spread misinformation and foment fear among voters.
Of course I am not making pledges about anything I'll vote for before bills are introduced, debated, and reasonably considered in the best interest of Arkansans. When Ms. Teresa Oelke of Americans for Prosperity began to hound me on Facebook about taking this "pledge" and crowed that my opponent pledged NO to this federal legislation, I just shook my head at such recklessness.
I hope D. 32 voters will show Americans for Prosperity that Arkansas voters are lots smarter than they think, and that the group can spend all the money it wants to in order to spread untruths. We won't stand for such irresponsible governing or politicking.