The Arkansas chapter of Americans For Prosperity (AFP-AR) has a video out bemoaning the use of State Police vehicles to transport legislators. Or, perhaps more accurately, a video purporting to oppose the use of the police chauffeurs while actually spinning the issue into something it is not.
But I am getting ahead of myself. First, take a peek at the video. (It’s like “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” but without the pesky rich and famous people!)
First off, I should note that, at some base level, I agree with AFP-AR’s position on this. I feel that there should be some pretty strict rules for use of this perk and, with few exceptions, I feel like legislators should reimburse the taxpayers for any non-emergency ride. But that’s a discussion for a separate post. This post is about the content of that video.
As you were watching (once you got past the lack of Robin Leach handling the narration, I mean), did you happen to catch something odd around the 1:20 mark?
“If Little Rock politicians want to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous, they can do it on their own money, not on the taxpayers’ dime.”
Other than the fact that the Capitol is located in Little Rock and, thus, legislators must travel to Little Rock to fulfill their duties, I am at a complete loss as to how Steve Harrelson (Texarkana), Gilbert Baker (Conway), Sue Madison (Fayetteville), and Stephanie Flowers (Pine Bluff) are “Little Rock politicians.” In that sense, the legislators involved are no more “Little Rock politicians” than is anyone who has ever served in the legislature; the location of the seat of government is literally irrelevant in this discussion. Honestly, with the involvement of both parties and the actual towns where the four legislators live, AFP-AR had this thing gift-wrapped as “a widespread problem that reaches across party lines into all corners of the state.” Throw up a map graphic and this commercial almost writes itself.
That is, of course, assuming that AFP-AR wanted to show the problem is widespread and bipartisan. However, by including “Little Rock,” which Oelke uses as an epithet, it’s pretty obvious that the overuse of state police chauffeurs is not the whole reason for this ad. After all, for many Arkansans, “Little Rock” tends to connote “liberal” or “Democrat” or both. AFP-AR deliberately painted the entire ad with a partisan hue, designed to foster distrust in Government generally (and Democrats specifically), rather than using this issue to, you know, actually call for changes or even to decry the excesses of “big government.”