A CHALLENGE: From candidate Zac White.

  • A CHALLENGE: From candidate Zac White.

Democratic state Senate candidate Zac White of Heber Springs has pledged, if elected, to introduce ethics legislation similar to that proposed in a recent ballot initiative. He’s challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, who’s been among the Republicans clearly cool to stronger ethics laws.

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About half of Irvin’s campaign contributions come from corporate contributors, which would have been prohibited by the Regnat Populus 2012 initiative. It fell short of ballot qualification on account of a late start on signature gathering.

White got one corporate contribution — from a law firm — early in his campaign. He said he has returned it.

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Sen. Irvin? White has challenged you to return your corporate contributions.

Is stronger ethics a useful campaign tool in Arkansas? It’s appealing to me. But I confess that it hasn’t proven to have much popular resonance over the years.

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UPDATE: Irvin fires back, primarily by noting her support for largely toothless ethics legislation passed in 2011; the single corporate contribution that White has returned, and an apparently erroneously misinterpretation by her of a single $4,000 contribution to White from the Cleburne County Democratic Party (legal if for both primary and general, which it was, and White says he also had clearance from Ethics Commission to report it in single payment). She doesn’t dwell on her own rich political party contributions or multiple corporate contributions. She also provides a misreading account of a court ruling striking down a Montana campaign finance law that prohibited corporate spending on elections. This law banned indirect spending by corporations, which Citizens United allows. It didn’t pertain to direct contributions. It is the law of the 8th U.S. Circuit covering Arkansas that direct corporate contributions may be prohibited in state campaigns as they are in federal campaigns. Such a ban would seriously damage Irvin’s corporate-stuffed coffers. Not to mention the thousands she received in ethically dubious contributions from campaign committees of other Republican senators. These contributions are personal use of campaign funds, supposedly prohibited by law.

White’s release is on the jump, followed by Irvin’s and White’s complete rebuttal: