by Max Brantley
The chamber of commerce's full frontal attack on the severance tax increase — not yet qualified for the ballot — continues. The Conway Chamber of Commerce today trotted out U.S. Reps. Mike Ross and Tim Griffin to announce their thoroughly unsurprising opposition. When the corporate lobby says jump, the toads leap.
The stealth campaign continues, with some good effect according to recent polling. The cry that the gas tax will deter job creation is a lie, judging by experience in states with higher severance taxes where production continues unabated (except to the extent depressed prices have had an impact). The congressmen probably would even cheer old Aubrey McClendon, the Chesapeake Energy boss who dreamed up a scheme to make himself unfathomably rich by cutting himself into a profit into every hole punched in the ground of Arkansas and other states. He doesn't want to make gas producers pay for the damage they cause to roads or environment either. Mike Ross and Tim Griffin respect millionaires, if not the roads of Arkansas.
I referred to a stealth campaign. I mean, for example, the guys handing out flyers at my house, the flyers themselves, the people running the social media accounts, the people orchestrating propaganda events like today's in Conway and all the other ways the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce is laundering money through campaign consultants to beat the severance tax without being accountable for how the money provided by gas companies is being spent. It's the same secrecy template used by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce when it passed corporate money through the Markham Group to avoid disclosure of specific spending on a city sales tax campaign. I don't know why they haven't thought of laundering the contributions themselves through the consultants too. It would make reporting very simple. Hypothetically:
ARKANSANS FOR LOW TAXES FOR RICH, SALES TAXES FOR POOR
Receipts: Markham Group, $1 million.
Expenditures: Markham Group, $1 million.
What else, really, does the public need to know?