John Lyon of Stephens Media reports
on a Legislative Audit finding that a $1,500 payment the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission
made to the Democratic Black Caucus
appeared to be a prohibited political contribution.
The Caucus responds that the money paid for an ad in a program at the Caucus' King-Kennedy Dinner
and also purchased ads on the caucus' website. It was intended to raise awareness about the housing law with a targeted audience, it said.
Rizzelle Aaron, vice president of the Democratic Black Caucus, told reporters the caucus did not solicit or receive a political contribution from the agency.
“When you buy a service, it’s not a contribution. The caucus also had a website at that time, and those ads were also advertised on the caucus website, and so it did in fact reach the target audience,” he said.
Hard to argue with the appearances found in the audit, however. Looks political. The prosecuting attorney will take a look.
The Arkansas History Commission
also bought an ad. It only had to pay $150. It would appear as well to be a prohibited political contribution of state money. They struck a better bargain though.
PS — This is absolutely fair game for audit and I think the Republicans are right to look askance. I just hope they show the same rigor with their own people. I just can't shake the $150,000 or so in abuse of taxpayer money in the six months of no-work salaries given to members of Mark Darr's staff
after he resigned as lieutenant governor, including a chief of staff, Bruce Campbell,
who'd turned in the bogus expense claims that caused Darr's downfall. Campbell campaigned for Asa Hutchinson
during the period when he was paid to do nothing. Only after "hours," I'm sure he'd argue. So you couldn't claim state money went to help the Asa campaign during that time. Appearances, however? Not so hot. Campbell is on Hutchinson's staff now.
Here's the full audit report, which noted some other problems in agency operations.