by Max Brantley
The secretary of state's public record is strong evidence that Trussell is correct.
Bookkeeping, right? No biggie? Well, serial flouting of the law would seem to merit a little inspection, though the local Maumelle newspaper doesn't seem interested in delving into it or other aspects of Lowery's record. Lowery is an extremist fringe Republican, but his defeat of a popular mainstream Republican in the primary might tell you where the mainstream of the Republican Party actually is nowadays, at least in Maumelle. Which means a hard fight for a good Democratic candidate, Kelly Halstead. She's plugging. Maybe the allegation that her opponent is an ethics scofflaw will help her. But with the head of the state Republican Party brazenly and proudly looking for more ways for his candidates to tap corporate money for personal expenses (see earlier post), maybe not. The Republican hierarchy seem to think they know and own the minds of Arkansas voters. They figure us all for a bunch of would-be petty grifters if only given the chance to be a Republican legislator, too.
You made a great point about Lowery's lamentable record exceeding his problems with tardiness. But as I considered Lowery's late filings, and the contributions from big businesses like Koch Industries, it occurred to me that one of three things could explain repeated violations of rules that every state candidate knows about: 1) Lowery really doesn't want voters to know who finances his campaign, 2) he considers himself above the rules that assure his compliance with state law, or 3) he's careless and disorganized.
In my opinion, voters have a right to consider all of these potential reasons, but Lowery has uttered not a peep about the complaint. He knows that if he can get past the election, the slap on the wrist that he inevitably will receive from the Ethics Commission won't have much consequence.
Lowery's last financial report is an honor roll of PACs — Koch money, real estate, health care. There's a single individual contribution among $4,000 in receipts. Previously, direct Koch, Walton and Dillard money poured into this extremist candidate. Naturally. Side note: the Dillard's empire didn't use to play much in state politics. They saved their money and stuck to business. But with former Republican state Rep. Dean Elliott of Maumelle leading Dillard's lobbying and smelling a Republican majority, he's passing the money around to Republican candidates. Remember that when you go shoe shopping. And here's yet another report of Lowery's, all Republican legislators (from their campaign funds, a dubious personal use of campaign money yet again) and assorted PACs and corporate interests. Lowery will be a reliable vote for somebody, but the average Joe in Maumelle will be way down the line in priority.