by Max Brantley
Electoral politics at the national level never really stop. Members of the U.S. Senate never stop raising money, for example. But 2014 looms larger, as evidenced by formation of a local PAC to target Sen. Mark Pryor. Businessman Carlton Saffa, a Republican, is the front man for the new Retire Pryor independent committee. Who else is involved? How much money will it commit? Is it a tool for a specific opposition candidate or anybody but Pryor? These are questions as yet unanswered.
For now, the group's website focuses on a tax dispute story that political opponents insist should be tied to Pryor, though as yet there's no evidence. Saffa believes politics explains why the IRS went after local businessman Ralph Bradbury for $800,000 in taxes owed by a trucking company he headed rather than Pryor's in-laws, Ed and Bonnie Harvey, who previously owned the company. It's a tangled dispute over employment taxes and who owes them for the now defunct trucking company. Bradbury, as you might imagine, is arguing in the IRS appeals process to get the responsibility placed on the Harveys. Pryor says categorically that he's never had a single thing to do with the Harveys business affairs in government or otherwise.
Saffa insists "logic" points at Pryor in the IRS action. By that evidentiary standard, you could say the evidence is about as good that this new PAC is more about helping Ralph Bradbury than defeating Mark Pryor. But, knowing Saffa, I do believe the desire to defeat Pryor is real enough. He'll have lots of company on the Republican side before it's over. A burning question is transparency. Forecast: Cloudy.
PS — I'm just doing an early-morning check-in from San Francisco. Leslie Peacock and David Koon will be carrying most of the load today in my absence, but they have some other obligations — including the John Glasgow search — so be patient.