The attorney general has approved the form of a proposed initiated act that would require reporting of contributions to independent political ads.
The proposal was submitted by David Couch on behalf of the Regnat Populus grassroots good government group. It will require signatures of 67,887 registered voters, not an easy task and one made more difficult by new restrictions on canvassing.
Current law has been interpreted to require no reporting for ad campaigns that don’t “expressly advocate” the election or defeat of a political candidate. That has produced millions in advertising clearly intended to help or hurt candidates, but with backers hiding behind the protection of not using the words vote “for” or “against.”
This proposal would:
* Cover communications that “functionally advocate” for or against a candidate.
* Require reporting by anyone who spends $2,000 or more in a calendar year.
* Require reporting of any person who contributed at least $200 to the expenditures.
* Maintain a website that identifies the 10 biggest givers.
* Supply information about top funders in advertising.
* Urge the Arkansas congressional delegation to support and the General Assembly to ratify a U.S. constitutional amendment to override the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, the so-called corporate personhood decision. It would prohibit corporate spending on elections.
A couple of predictions: Huge sums will be spent to defeat this should it reach the ballot. The ruling political class will not embrace it. And, if it passes, the Arkansas congressional delegation and legislature will ignore the will of the people, knowing better than they the value of corporate citizenry.
Some money remains from past ethics drives that could be contributed to a petition-gathering campaign.