by Max Brantley
UPDATE ON AN ITEM FROM YESTERDAY: The Pulaski County clerk found no lobbying registration forms on file for several of the people who've been working to organize opposition to the land use ordinance for the Lake Maumelle watershed that is pending before the Quorum Court.
I have calls or e-mails out to three of the people who've been involved, including Brent Stevenson, who's registered with the state as a lobbyist for both Deltic Timber, the major property owner in the watershed, and Koch Industries, whose owners are a source of financial support for Americans for Prosperity, another political group that has been working against land-use rules in the watershed. AFP's leader in Arkansas, Teresa Oelke, also a state-registered lobbyist, has been among those involved in the land use fight. Oelke, who lives in Rogers, also has no form in file in her home county of Benton.
Are they lobbyists for purposes of this issue as defined by law? Should they be required to register with the county since they oppose a rule considered earlier by a county planning board and soon by the Quorum Court? Until I hear more from them, I can't say. But I'll provide a couple of the pertinent rules on the jump, from the state Ethics Commission.
UPDATE: The anti-land-use crowd apparently has a compromise in the works that it hope might peel off some sponsors from the pending ordinance, currently signed by a majority of the Quorum Court. A last-minute substitution acceptable to the AFP/Deltic/Tea Party crowd? Land use for a giant watershed dictated by a tiny handful of land owners? Would not be good.
UPDATE II: After the lobbying rules, find a letter from County Judge Buddy Villines in support of the ordinance. He responded to the petition drive seeking stronger land use protection that the ordinance currently provides.
UPDATE III: Fancy that. Deltic/Koch mouthpiece Brent Stevenson didn't call me back today, but he did find time to drop by the secretary of state's office and update his lobbyist registration form. He's added Mark and Lori White of Bigelow and the Pulaski County Property Owners Coalition of Bigelow, both part of the anti-zoning movement. I'm sure that update was coincidental to my item this morning. No action or return call from the AFP lobby contingent.
UPDATE IV: I've now heard as well from the Koch front group, Americans for Prosperity, who contends that local lobby registration hasn't been required to date, but is planned. I'd quibble with the interpretation (I think her status as a paid, active lobbyist on a local issue is well-established and has already triggered a reporting requirement), but they are acknowledging the activity and plan to register, so that's a step in the transparent direction.
WHAT IS A LOBBYIST?
(a) For purposes of these rules, persons engaged in lobbying activity as defined by § 500(j) will be considered lobbyists, subject to registration and reporting, if the person:
(1) receives income or reimbursement in a combined amount of $400 or more in a
calendar quarter for lobbying activities; or
(2) expends $400 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities, excluding the
cost of personal travel, lodging, meals, or dues; or
(3) expends $400 or more in a calendar quarter, including postage, for the express purpose of soliciting others to communicate with any public servant to influence any legislative action or administrative action of one (1) or more governmental bodies unless the communication has been filed with the Secretary of State or has been published in the news media. If the communication is filed with the Secretary of State, the filing shall include the approximate number of recipients.
(b) All persons who act as lobbyists shall register as lobbyists pursuant to § 502 of these rules unless specifically exempted from registration pursuant to § 504 herein.
(c) Whether a person is a lobbyist is a factual determination made by the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
WHERE TO REGISTER AND MAKE OTHER FILINGS
(a) (1) A lobbyist who lobbies public servants of state government shall register and make other filings with the Secretary of State as required by these rules and the laws of Arkansas.
(2) A lobbyist who lobbies public servants of municipal government shall register and make other filings as required by these rules and the laws of Arkansas with the city clerk or recorder of the municipality, as the case may be.
(3) A lobbyist who lobbies public servants of county government or any government body not otherwise covered by this section shall register and make other filings with the county clerk of the county as required by these rules and the laws of Arkansas.
(4) A lobbyist who lobbies public servants of a governmental body covering a district that includes all or part of more than one county shall file with the Secretary of State and the county clerk of his or her principal place of business or residence within the state.
(b) A lobbyist who would be required to register and file with more than one public official under this section may instead register and make other filings as required by these rules and the laws of Arkansas with the Secretary of State and the county clerk of his or her principal place of business or residence within the state.
COUNTY JUDGE BUDDY VILLINES LETTER
December 12, 2011
To citizens concerned about the Watershed.
The vote on the two ordinances before the Quorum Court will determine whether the water that this community relies on will be protected. Several hundred thousand dollars of citizen’s money and thousands of hours have been expended in this effort.
In the process individuals and groups have been listened to and their concerns have been addressed in order to protect our water and be fair to property owners. The ordinances before the Quorum Court accomplish that.
We are now at a point where the real differences are between those who want more stringent regulations and those who prefer no regulations. This difference can’t be resolved.
The ordinances before the Quorum Court are at a mid-point that accomplishes the goal of protecting our water and being fair to property owners. The Quorum Court’s decision will determine the answer to the question:
Will we protect our water or not?
County Judge\Chief Executive Officer.
FROM AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY
Teresa Oelke is a registered lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity (AFP) in Arkansas. On the lobbyist registration form filed with the state, Teresa fully disclosed she intended to lobby at the city and county level. A person must register within five days of triggering the registration requirement. Attending meetings or testifying at hearings does not trigger the lobbying law. As her activity increases, Teresa will register with the Benton County Clerk as well since that is the county where she resides and has her principal place of business and is the appropriate venue for registration under the law.
Americans for Prosperity