by Max Brantley
Another Markham Group mailer hit mailboxes today. Like the anti-casino mailer, it's another anti-democratic effort urging people not to sign petitions putting a gas severance tax increase on the ballot. The committee, Arkansans for Jobs and Affordable Energy, is yet another chamber of commerce front group (remember the Little Rock sales tax campaign?) primarily financed by the gas industry.
The latest report shows another $100,000 contribution from Stephens Production, upping its contribution to a cool half-milion. The committee has raised and spent more than $1 million before the Sheffield Nelson-led severance tax increase has even qualified for the ballot. There's a LOT more where that came from, though it's only a tiny fraction of the huge sums rushing out of state to gas companies and royalty owners paying only a token for removal of a finite resource.
By contrast, the Committee for a Fair Severance Tax has raised $155,000, but none in the last two reporting periods. Its major contribution was $100,000 from the Calfneck Capital Corp. of Perryville, headed, according to state records, by Burnis "Buddy" Metcalf. Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock earlier gave $50,000.
Speaking of Sheffield Nelson: He'll speak to the Political Animals Club at noon May 30 at the Wyndham in North Little Rock.