I’m in receipt of a message sent to registered lobbyists seeking “sponsors” for either a dinner on Dec. 4 or a lunch on Dec. 5 (the lunch must be close to the Capitol) for the next meeting of the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Task Force.
This is the group looking for ways to cut taxes, preferably those that apply to rich people and corporations. It wouldn’t do for the members of the task force to take their fattened paychecks and fat per diem (untaxed expense payments) to pay for their own meals would it? Not when corporate tax breaks are on the table.
You might have thought that the so-called ethics amendment outlawed free wining and dining for legislators. But legislators adopted several loopholes (the chief architect was accused kickback recipient Jon Woods, who goes to trial next week) that allowed free slopping of legislators when an entire committee is invited. I’ve asked Speaker Jeremy Gillam if this ad hoc committee is on the approved list. No response yet but how else would the Arkansas Society of Professional Lobbyists know about it so as to put out a call for someone to pick up the check.
The Society says you’ll need a credit card good for 16 task force members, 10 out-of-state guests and five to 10 people from the sponsoring entities for each event. Reporters and members of the public will have to bring a lunch. Surely they’ll be allowed to sit in on dining table conversations?
Here are the legislators on the task force:
Senate: Republican Sens. Bart Hester, Missy Irvin, Dave Wallace,
House Republican Reps. Joe Jett, Frances Cavenaugh, Jim Dotson, Lane Jean and Mathew Pitsch. Democratic Reps. Bob Johnson, Warwick Sabin (it so happens a co-sponsor of the “ethics amendment”) and Kenneth Ferguson.