by Max Brantley
Regnat Populus 2012, the grassroots movement to stiffen state public ethics law, announced that the attorney general has approved the form of the proposed initiated act. That clears the way for signature gathering for the proposal, which would be on the November ballot if 63,000 valid signatures can be gathered.
The proposal would conform state political finance laws to the federal law by prohibiting direct contributions by corporations and unions to political campaigns. Legislators would have to wait two years, not one, to become a lobbyist after leaving office and the law would prohibit gifts of any value, even so much as a cup of coffee, to legislators (the so-called Walmart rule after the retailers' stiff anti-influence-peddling rules for dealing with vendors).
The attorney general had rejected the first proposal for partisan color to some of the wording. Here's today's opinion approving the revised measure. Notably, the measure isn't described as "reform," though it most assuredly would be.
Paul Spencer, a Catholic High teacher, is the leader of the volunteer effort that has drawn in good-government types from all over, including some Occupy Little Rock mainstays. A corps of lawyers has also pitched into the drafting effort, including John Adams, now in banking, who formerly worked in the attorney general's office and ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2010, and Bettina Brownstein, one of the winning lawyers in the lawsuit over legislative expenses, who has included this in her growing work in public interest law.