Errors and omissions: Little Rock mayor's race | Arkansas Blog

Errors and omissions: Little Rock mayor's race


LITTLE ROCK IS FOR HYPOCRITES: Mark Stodola wants part of a city ordinance enforced, just not the part he's ignoring. - ARKANSAS BUSINESS/TWITTER
  • Arkansas Business/Twitter
  • LITTLE ROCK IS FOR HYPOCRITES: Mark Stodola wants part of a city ordinance enforced, just not the part he's ignoring.

To repeat the facts after reading the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette account of yesterday of the state Ethics Commission's repeat refusal to find a state problem with exploratory committees set up by mayoral candidates Warwick Sabin and Frank Scott Jr.

Mayor Mark Stodola is a hypocrite.

A city ordinance prohibits city candidates from raising money for next year's election before June 1. So Sabin and Scott found a loophole — a state law that allows "exploratory committees" to raise money two years before an election. It's a direct affront to the intent of the people's ordinance, no doubt about that, but legal.

Stodola, through cutouts and now himself directly, is highly unhappy. He says he can't raise money yet while his opponents are doing so. So what's this then? It is Mayor Stodola's carryover campaign fund from an unopposed race in 2014. It shows he has more than $78,000 socked away for his race next year.

This from the D-G article on the matter:

Stodola said in a phone interview that "the city ordinance is very clear that the timeline applies to all campaigns, including exploratory campaigns, and both candidates continue to violate the ordinance."

He said the Ethics Commission's response is troublesome since the commission's rules clearly prevent an incumbent from forming an exploratory committee, therefore giving "a big advantage" to any challengers who can collect money that way. Stodola is prevented from collecting money until June by the city ordinance.
Do we really want to talk about clarity of the city ordinance, really, and who's violating those terms?

Sec. 2-389. - Balance of funds over expenses.

Within thirty (30) days following a general election, if there is no campaign deficit, a candidate for municipal office shall turn over any balance of campaign funds over expenses incurred as of the day of election either to:

(a) The city for the benefit of the city general fund; or (b) A nonprofit organization which is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the United State Internal Revenue Code; or (c) The contributors to the candidate's campaign; or (d) A combination of the entities listed in this subsection.
Stodola didn't do this, his own reporting shows. He contends state law overrode that city requirement. But he also seems to contend state law on exploratory committees DOES NOT override the city ordinance.

Rank hypocrisy. Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley has wisely told City Attorney Tom Carpenter HE won't prosecute anybody over this campaign fund-raising. The City Board, which pressed this issue to protect itself from exploratory committees formed by their potential opponents, would do well to drop the matter for now and seek a legislative law change that clearly lets the city impose and enforce stricter limits on fund-raising — including a prohibition of use of carryover money such as Stodola is doing.

For background, note this story I wrote back in 2010. It shows Stodola has been playing fast and loose with the carryover law since 2010 when he was sitting on a $90,000 nest egg that he refused to give to charity as the ordinance required. He didn't observe it then or in 2014 and he still doesn't. But he wants somebody to stop his opponents from running an end-run on an ordinance he's flouted for years. The Democrat-Gazette should note this every time it writes about the exploratory committees. It's inextricably linked.

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