Arkansas’s campaign-finance laws are fairly clear when it comes to the upper limits of contributions. Specifically, it is unlawful for a candidate for public office or for any person acting on the candidate’s behalf to accept campaign contributions in excess of two thousand seven hundred ($2,700) per election from an individual.[footnote]See Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-203(b)(1)[/footnote]
While looking at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s CC&E[footnote]Campaign Contribution & Expenditure[/footnote] Reports, we noticed that Hutchinson reported two contributions of $2,700 each for the primary and general election from Ms. Scarlett Basore of Bella Vista, AR, received on September 29, 2017. These were reported on page 49 of Hutchinson’s Third Quarter 2017 CC&E.
Those contributions were all well and good.
Unfortunately, at least from a legal standpoint, Hutchinson reported an additional $2,700 primary election contribution from Ms. Basore on May 7, 2018, on page 86 of his 10-day pre-primary CC&E.
Page 5 of Gov. Hutchinson’s May 2018 CC&E (filed June 15, 2018) also reflects an additional $2,700 general election contribution from Ms. Basore, also on May 7.
Those additional primary and general election contributions are, on their face, illegal under Arkansas law. Additionally, by failing to properly report the cumulative total contributed by Ms. Basore for each election, Gov. Hutchinson also appears to have committed two violations of Arkansas Code Annotated § 7-6-207(b)(1)(C), which requires that the cumulative amount from a donor be listed on the CC&Es.
Based on all of this, we filed a complaint with the Arkansas Ethics Commission today. A copy of the complaint is available here.
Given the obvious nature of this violation, I would expect the Ethics Commission to open an investigation pretty quickly. Whether Hutchinson will admit his mistake and return the illegal $5,400 promptly remains to be seen.