The big story of the 2012 Arkansas election is a simple one — can outside corporate money, virtually unaccountable as to source and spending, buy a majority of state legislative seats for anti-tax, anti-regulation Republicans?
The leading spenders are the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and 60 Plus, another conservative Republican front group. They are filling mailboxes wth campaign literature straining truth to the limit in attacking Democratic candidates as, primarily, friends of the Negro president and his socialistic health care plan. They may have already been joined by, or will be joined by, others. The amount of Republican money is unlimited and history shows that spending $10,000 or so on dishonest mailouts in a tiny Arkansas legislative district with small turnout and pre-existing animus toward the president is highly rewarding.
I got a complaint yesterday, for example, about a mailer claiming erroneously that a Democratic rep. had voted for a bill to create health exchanges in Arkansas. She had not. Sadly, fatcat-funded truth squads don’t exist for Democratic candidates.
All this is a runup to note that the latest wrinkle on the Billionaires Koch agenda is a bus tour through Arkansas next week, Obama’s Failing Agenda. It’ll be stopping Wednesday through Friday (and providing free food and drink) in Paragould, Monticello, El Dorado, Conway, Searcy and Jonesboro. It’s not about the presidential race, needless to say. Important in this effort are state Senate and congressional races, where Republicans are poised to implement the Kochs’ comfort-the-wealthy governance if elected. Celebrity guest is the Cheers barfly Cliff Clavin, John Ratzenberger.
There’s a reason for limits on campaign spending. Without them, a handful of rich people can control electoral destiny. The unfettered and secretive spending of fat cats such as these, thanks to immense help from Citizens United and the failure of ethics regulators to recognize direct advocacy spending when it slaps them in the face, are contributing factors.
Remember the George Fisher cartoon that made the entire Arkansas General Assembly, down to the mice, clones of Orval Faubus? If he were alive he’d need to find some images of the Koch brothers. Or maybe their paid enabler, Teresa Oelke of Rogers, would serve as a cutout.
PS — You’ll find the Kochs mentioned in today’s NY Times story on the huge spending by fossil fuel industries to defeat Obama. They really HATE encouragement of alternative energy, as you’ll see often in Oelke’s Arkansas broadsides for her patrons, the Koch boys.