AR-Sec. State: About Those PAC Filings, Mark

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During the race for Secretary of State, an issue arose with some improperly formed PACs that had donated to Mark Martin’s campaign. Being the helpful guy that I am, I contacted the Martin campaign and let them know about the improper donations. To my knowledge, they (unlike John Thurston) never returned the donations. C’est la politique, I guess.

Today, however, I decided to take a look at the current year’s PAC filings, just to see if Martin had at least learned from the experience. I mean, surely Martin would take steps to prevent this kind of issue in the future, right? Surely, he would require that Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-6-215, which governs PACs, was adhered to, right?

Of course not.

As of this 7:15 morning when I printed out the list from the Secretary of State’s website, there were 202 PAC registration filings for 2011. Starting with “A Secure America PAC” and ending with “Windstream State Employee Polictical[sic] Action Commit,” I went through each one and checked it against the legal requirements. Of those 202, 88 (43.5%) had some sort of omission or omissions, to wit:

  • 45 were missing addresses, phone numbers, and place of employment for the PAC officers, in violations of Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-215(b)(1).
  • 10 lacked the required information regarding a financial institution as required by Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-215(b)(3).
  • 40 failed to include (or in a couple cases, failed to fully complete) the “written acceptance of designation as a resident agent” per Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-215(b)(4).

Of these errors, the last group is the most problematic, simply because that same statute, in subsection (a)(3)(B), states that “[n]o contribution shall be accepted froma political action committee and no expenditure shall be made by a political action committee that has not registered and does not have a resident agent.” This was the same problem that made the donations improper during the campaign. Simply put, unless the Secretary of State’s office contacts each of the PACs that lacks an agent, every donation and expenditure made by said PACs will be improper.

I should note that many (I’d say roughly 2/3) of the PACs that failed to list a resident agent did so because they were using out-of-date forms, which required someone to be named treasurer. You could argue that those omissions are not Martin’s fault, I suppose, but that would require you to ignore that Martin was in the legislature and voted in favor of the bills in 2007 and 2009 that replaced “treasurer” with “resident agent.” He was also in the House and voted in favor of a bill in 2005 that made several substantive changes to this section of the code. So the only way it’s not Martin’s fault is if you excuse his not knowing what he was voting on three separate times or his not caring enough about the new job to make sure that the forms used complied with three pieces of legislation that he helped pass.

Prior to the election, I wrote:

Though I don’t really expect an answer, at this point I have to ask any Martin supporters who happen across this blog: why? What about this guy suggests that he would be a good Secretary of State? Heck, what about him suggests that he would even be an adequate Secretary of State (which, let’s be honest, would still be an upgrade over Chuck Daniels)?

It’s pretty telling, then, that one month into his tenure, I am already wondering if that statement overestimated Mark Martin’s abilities.

[Author’s note: Because I am such a nice guy, I’ll even help the Sec. State’s office out a bit and list the incomplete registrations.  Some have more than one incorrect filing, which is why the total PACs listed does not match the number above.]

  • AF&PC Forestry for the Future
  • American Electric Power Committee for Responsible
  • American Insurance Association ARK PAC
  • American Insurance Association ARK PAC
  • American Insurance Association ARK PAC
  • Architecture Political Action Committee
  • Arkansas Agents Political Action Committee
  • Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association
  • Arkansas Bankers Association Group 1 PAC
  • Arkansas Bankers Association Group 2 PAC
  • Arkansas Bankers Association Group 3 PAC, Inc.
  • Arkansas Bankers Association Group 4 PAC
  • Arkansas Cable Telecommunications PAC
  • Arkansas Chiropractic Association PAC
  • Arkansas Club for Growth
  • Arkansas Committee for Children and Public Ed
  • Arkansas Counseling Association PAC
  • Arkansas Dental PAC
  • Arkansas Federation of Young Republicans
  • Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants
  • Arkansas Health Care House Public Affairs Committee
  • Arkansas Health Care Public Affairs
  • Arkansas Health Care Senate Public Affairs Committee
  • Arkansas Home Builders Build PAC
  • Arkansas Optometric Physicians PAC
  • Arkansas Pharmacists PAC
  • Arkansas Pharmacists PAC
  • Arkansas Physicians Hospitals PAC
  • Arkansas Podiatric Medical Association PAC
  • Arkansas Poultry Federation PAC
  • Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association
  • Arkansas Right to Life Inc State PAC
  • Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce PAC
  • Arkansas State Dental Hygienists PAC
  • Arkansas Timber Producers Association
  • Associated Industries of Arkansas PAC
  • Baxter County Democratic Club
  • Baxter County Republican Committee
  • Bella Vista Republican Women’s Club PAC
  • Benton County Democratic Central Committee
  • Boone County Republican Committee
  • Brent Stevenson Associates
  • Carroll County Century Club
  • Carroll County Republican Central Comittee [sic]
  • Citizens for the American Agenda
  • Clark County Democratic Central Committee
  • Craighead County Republican Committee
  • Democratic Women’s Action Committee of North AR
  • Farmers Employee/Agent Political Action Committee
  • Faulkner County Democratic Women
  • Faulkner County Republican Committee
  • Forest Express PAC
  • Home Care Association of Arkansas PAC
  • HOMEPAC
  • Hospitality PAC
  • Independence County Republican Committee
  • Involved Members Political Action Committee
  • Jefferson County Republican Committee
  • Jonesboro FireFighters Local 3718 PAC
  • Lonoke County Republican Committee
  • Manufactured Housing Council
  • Marion County Republican Committee
  • Metropolitan National Bank PAC
  • Northwest Arkansas PAC
  • Nucor CorporationPolitical [sic] Action Committee of AR
  • Opportunity PAC
  • Polk County Democratic Central Committee
  • Pope County Democratic Committee
  • Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
  • Pulaski Assoc. of Classroom Teachers Small Donor
  • Republican Party of Benton County
  • Republican Party of Garland County
  • Republican Party of Pope County
  • Republican Women of Pope County
  • Scott County Democratic Central Committee
  • Sebastian County Republican Committee
  • Secure Arkansas Political Action Committee
  • Southern States Police Benevolent Assoc PAC Fund
  • Stone County Democratic Women
  • Union County Republican Committee
  • VOTE
  • Washington County Republican Committee
  • White County Republican Committee
  • Wholesale Beer Distributorship of Arkansas

[Author’s note the second: Even the above accounting is a little generous; I did not count the myriad registrations that failed to list “the professional, business, trade, labor, or other interests represented by the” PAC. So many failed to list these interests (nearly 90%, I would guess) that it would only belabor the point.]