Thursday, May 23, 2024

Whatever, Ethics! Jason Rapert Does What He Wants!

If you are the kind of person who spends way too much time looking at the minutae surrounding elections that are at least ten months away, July 15 is one of those dates that you have circled.  It’s second-quarter-financial-disclosure time, y’all!  (Which, let’s be honest, is probably the least exciting thing anyone has ever exclaimed.)

While many people, both candidates and pundits alike, will focus on the raw totals raised (or not raised, as the case may be), I like to browse through the disclosures and find small bits of interest that might otherwise go unreported.  For example, if you look at Mark Darr’s disclosure (filed July 12), you would notice that he received $100 from Jason Rapert for Senate.

Then you might think to yourself, “self, isn’t it illegal for one campaign to give money directly to another campaign?  I thought that’s what those farcical ‘ticketed events’ were about.”  And you would be right.  According to the Ethics Rules:

Sec. 209(f) Contributions to the Campaigns of Others – Generally, campaign funds may not be used to make a contribution to another candidate’s campaign. Contributions are construed as a personal matter and transferring a contribution from one campaign to another person’s campaign is considered a “personal use” of the funds [in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 7-6-203].

This is a general rule, of course, and such a payment creates only a rebuttable presumption that the money was an improper personal use of campaign funds.  A candidate may rebut this presumption by demonstrating that the contribution did not run afoul of campaign-ethics rules, which is generally where the “ticketed event” (i.e. a fundraiser) loophole comes in.  The Ethics Commission isn’t even too hard on candidates about satisfying the requirement that the “purpose of attending [the ticketed event is] to further the candidate’s own campaign.”

But, again, that is for a ticketed fundraiser.  There’s no assertion in Lt. Gov. Darr’s disclosure form that Sen. Rapert bought a ticket with this money.  This is just money directly from Rapert’s campaign to Darr’s campaign.

Anyone else curious to see how Rapert tries to justify this?  “Playing the poor, downtrodden victim of a mean ol’ blogger” is the safest bet, but “Democrats do it, too!” is highly likely as well.

If history is any indication, the only bad bet would be “not dignifying the accusation with a response,” which seems to be something he’s incapable of doing.

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