by Max Brantley
Two good examples in the morning paper of what to expect from a rising Republican majority:
* EROSION OF ETHICS LAWS: State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb wants the state Ethics Commission to allow political candidates to use campaign money to attend national political conventions. This is boodling, pure and simple. There's no need for campaign money to be used to stay in an expensive hotel in a faraway city to rub shoulders with party pals except for self-aggrandizement. This is essentially an incumbent enhancement act. Only incumbents — who rake in cash from lobbyists sufficient to build up the unconscionable incumbent reserve fund allowed by the legislature — are likely to have the dough to use for these trips anyway. This will essentially open a back door for corporate interests to pay for deluxe travel for sitting legislators. It's wrong. Regnat Populus is coming. It's overdue. If you think this is the last money cadging gimmick in the quiver of Doyle Webb and the unemployed Republicans who live off the public teat and lobbyists' credit cards you ain't seen nothing yet.
* DISHONESTY: Rep. Bryan King is back with another lament on the op-ed page about the push for Voter ID laws to suppress voting by important Democratic constituencies — the poor, minorities and students. He is being dishonest yet again. He links absentee vote law abuse to the Voter ID laws. There is NO connection. Voter ID doesn't apply to absentee balloting, where abuses do indeed occur. In fact, Republicans in other states have objected to stiffening absentee voting laws for fear of depressing this vote, which is generally a Republican strength. If anything, in swing states, Republicans have worked to increase absentee voting.
But almost nothing has been done about the distinctive challenges posed by absentee ballots. To the contrary, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state recently sent absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state. And Republican lawmakers in Florida recently revised state law to allow ballots to be mailed wherever voters want, rather than typically to only their registered addresses.
“This is the only area in Florida where we’ve made it easier to cast a ballot,” Daniel A. Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida, said of absentee voting.
He posited a reason that Republican officials in particular have pushed to expand absentee voting. “The conventional wisdom is that Republicans use absentee ballots and Democrats vote early,” he said.
Yes, Arkansas Republicans have tried to curb early voting, becoming particularly enraged one year when black churches organized voter drives on Sundays before an election. Black people voting? That is fraud to Republicans.