by Max Brantley
Michael Cook, the Democratic political operative now blogging at the Talk Business website, comments on a recent Republican fund-raiser featuring U.S. Rep. Steve Womack. The stated purpose was to raise a war chest to support state legislative candidates. The haul was reportedly more than $25,000.
Here's the problem: Congressman Womack and State Republicans may have dramatically violated federal campaign finance regulations with their recent fundraiser.
Federal office-holders are prohibited from personally raising soft money (read corporate) or appearing at fundraisers where soft money is raised. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires specific language on all fundraising invitations explicitly stating that only certain types of money can be raised at the event. That money must be from individuals or federal PACs. Womack was a co-host for the fundraiser, along with Lt. Governor Mark Darr, Republican legislators and corporate (read soft money) sponsors.
I've asked the Ark. GOP for comment. It's so easy to forget about corporate money since — regrettably — corporate contributions to state candidates are legal in Arkansas. And you can dodge contribution limits by giving in the name of multiple corporate identities controlled by the same person to a single candidate.