AR-GOP: Penny For Your Thoughts?

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    Last week, I noted that Rep. Mark Martin had illegally accepted a donation from an improperly formed Political Action Committee (PAC), the Twin Lakes Republican Women’s Club. Well, predictably (because PACs generally donate to a bunch of candidates, not just one), Martin was joined on Twin Lakes’ list illegal contributions by John Boozman, Rick Crawford, Jim Keet, Mark Darr, Mark Martin, and John Thurston.

    Given the ARGOP’s recent screeds about extra-legal / illegal benefits that some state officers have received, I thought all of these candidates might be interested in knowing about the illegal donations. So, being the kind person that I am, I sent the following email a little while ago.

    Dear Messrs. Boozman, Crawford, Keet, Darr, and Martin,

    In reviewing campaign donations to various candidates, I noticed that all of you had accepted $500 (Boozman, Crawford, Keet) or $250 (Darr, Martin) from a PAC called the Twin Lakes Republican Women’s Club on or around June 7, 2010. Unfortunately, this PAC was not properly formed under Arkansas law, as they neglected to name a resident agent within the state pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 7-6-215 (a)(3)(A). Per Ark. Code Ann. 7-6-215 (a)(3)(B), “No contribution shall be accepted from a political action committee … that has not registered and does not have a resident agent.” Furthermore, as you may know, Ark. Code Ann. 7-6-203 (e)(1) states, “It shall be unlawful for any candidate for any public office or any person acting in the candidate’s behalf to accept any contribution from a prohibited political action committee for any election. Under Ark. Code Ann. 7-6-201 (15)(A), a “prohibited political action committee” includes any PAC “that does not meet the requirements of an approved political action committee.” Obviously, one of those requirements is the resident-agent clause mentioned above.

    I note that many of you, if not all, likely had no reason to know that the PAC in question was not properly formed. While I sympathize with such a predicament, I note that none of the statutes in question require knowledge on your part for the contribution to be nonetheless illegal.1

    Before I report on this oversight on Blue Hog Report, I wanted to contact all of your respective campaigns and extend an offer: Upon your return of the illegal contribution in question, if you will contact me at this email address, I will happily report your upstanding and forthright actions on Blue Hog Report. If there is some problem with returning the money, I also invite you to contact me and explain.

    I look forward to hearing from all of you.

    I sent the same message to John Thurston via his website because I could not locate an email address for him. To his credit, his campaign was the first to respond, stating that Thurston was at work and unavailable to respond at the moment, but he would respond as soon as he could.

    I did not send emails, but I note that Kelly Lenck (Republican candidate for House Dist. 86), Lari Benedict (Republican candidate for House Dist. 82), and a handful of candidates for seats in Baxter County all also received donations from Twin Lakes.

    Update: The Boozman camp is taking the stance that, as Boozman is a candidate for federal office, he is not subject to state campaign fundraising laws, nor does it matter that Twin Lakes was not properly registered under Arkansas law because they were not required to register under federal law. I have calls/emails in to a number of people in an attempt to verify or rebut this claim, as I am not 100% sure what the correct answer is here.

    1 I should have been a little more clear on this point. Ark. Code Ann. 7-6-202 says that the “knowing or willful” violation of this subchapter is a misdemeanor; a violation that does not rise to the knowing/willful level may not be a crime, but it is still illegal in that it is a violation of the statute.