by Max Brantley
Reports continue to arrive of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce's harassment campaign — fueled by $1.55 million in gas company money — to discourage people from signing petitions calling an election on an increase in the gas severance tax. The anti-tax campaign dispatched paid workers election day to disrupt signature gathering. That practice has continued, according to reports I've received.
Surely somebody with a smart phone can catch some video of the tactics used to discourage lawful petitioning activity. Sheffield Nelson, leader of the severance tax initiative, had earlier alleged intimidation tactics by anti-tax agents. Anybody with eyewitness accounts or video?
WHICH REMINDS ME: It'd be nice to know who the chamber is paying to bedevil lawful petition gatherers. Good luck with that. The anti-severance-tax campaign follows the Chamber of Comerce template recently ratified on a technicality by the Arkansas Ethics Commission. It allows the chamber to wash millions through intermediate "consultants" who do the dirty work, telling taxpayers nothing of the specifics of their expenditures — $140,000 to two firms, in Arlington, Va., and Little Rock, in the most recent report. Be interesting to have names of the flying squads to check against various public records. Republican senatorial candidate Dorothy English once said she'd work to correct ethics law if elected. That still true, Rep. English?