Frank Scott Jr. joined Rep. Warwick Sabin today in issuing a statement defending their forming exploratory committees to raise money to run for Little Rock mayor next year.
The state Ethics Commission has signed off on the practice. Exploratory committees can raise money two years preceding an election. City Attorney Tom Carpenter this week issued an opinion, however, saying the state law did not override a city ordinance that limits active fund-raising to five months before the election in November 2018. In a quirk of law, Carpenter also opined, however, that the inability to raise money sooner did not prohibit Mayor Mark Stodola from using $78,000 left over from an unopposed race in 2014.
Sabin blasted the city attorney’s opinion as cronyism in behalf of the mayor and insisted he’d complied with the law.
Scott took a milder tone but defended his exploratory activity.
“My campaign exploratory committee has followed applicable state law, and we are encouraged by the broad based support we are receiving. We initiated this journey because our city is in desperate need of leadership to address growing economic disparities, a lack of vision for our economy and jobs, and solutions to the resulting wave of crime in our streets. Our city should be embracing those who bring new thoughts and solutions to the table instead of trying to silence them – and the voices of our community – in favor of the political status quo. Along with the citizens of Little Rock, we support full participation in our city’s political process, and I call on city leaders to simply repeal this ordinance to make it clear that they support and stand for all voices being heard in our community.”
As I’ve written, a good government group prompted the five-month fund-raising limit because of the observation that open-ended fund-raising meant special interests would drop money on city officials at times of important votes. The ordinance prohibits carryovers and requires the money be refunded to contributors or given to nonprofits. But Carpenter said state law had overridden THAT part of the city ordinance though not the five-month fund-raising limit.