[Ed. note: I was going to write this as an update to the prior post, but it seems to warrant a separate posting, if only to serve as two further illustrations of an ongoing problem.]
One of my very favorite lines ever written in any Arkansas Supreme Court decision was from the late Chief Justice Jim Hannah, who wrote in Roberts v. Roberts, “Rules are rules for a reason, and they have a purpose.”[footnote]2009 Ark. 306, fn. 2. In that case, Hannah and the majority of the Court ordered an appellant to re-brief the case because the required addendum and abstract were insufficient.[/footnote] It’s such a pithy line, because it conveys so much in a few words. Rules don’t just show up out of the blue; they are created for a specific reason, and they are designed to fulfill a purpose that was not fulfilled without that rule. Seems straightforward enough, right? Certainly not something many of us would disagree with.
One rule that every candidate must know is that the date of a contribution on a campaign-finance report is ” the date the contribution was accepted by the candidate.”[footnote]Ark. Code Ann. 7-6-207(b)(1)(C).[/footnote] Moreover, every judicial candidate knows (or, at the very least, is assumed to know) is that candidates for nonpartisan judicial offices cannot begin accepting contributions until 180 days prior to the election in which they are running.[footnote]Ark. Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 4.4(B)(2).[/footnote]
JaNan Arnold Davis is seeking the position of Little Rock District Court Judge. Because that is a non-partisan judicial race, the election is held at the same time as the preferential primary election, which this year is May 22, 2018.
180 days prior to May 22, 2018, is November 23, 2017.
Unless your calendar differs from mine, November 12, 2017, is 11 days prior to the first date on which a judicial candidate could accept campaign contributions. Yet, right there in Davis’s Fourth Quarter 2017 report, we have this:
That is, on its face, an illegal campaign contribution.
The second thing that jumped out at me as I thought more about the previous post was something I’d initially forgotten about the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct, which says that a judicial candidate shall not “personally solicit or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee authorized by Rule 4.4″[footnote]Ark. Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 4.1(A)(8).These rules apply to judicial candidates as well as judges.[/footnote] (emphasis added).
But, remember in the prior post, when we noted, “the quarterly/monthly reports that candidates file have a specific box on them that asks, ‘Does the candidate have a campaign committee?'” We also pointed out that every one of Davis’s forms looks like this:
How does that work? If, under the rules applicable to the seat you are running for, you can only accept contributions through a campaign committee, how can you assert in a sworn filing that you do not have a campaign committee? More to the point, isn’t checking that box and submitting the filing, which is done under penalty of perjury, an outright admission that you are violating the judicial campaign-finance rules?
Rules are rules for a reason, and they have a purpose. If a judicial candidate cannot even following something as basic as how to accept campaign contributions and what information needs to be included on a CC&E, all of which are pretty straightforward, how confident are you that, if elected, she would adhere to rules regarding procedure, evidence, and the like?