Mike Lee, the Democrat challenging Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, outlined a detailed agenda to strengthen Arkansas ethics laws.
He calls it a Bill of Rights of 2018, saying “Arkansans have a right to a government that is free from the corrupting influences of self-interested power brokers, high-rolling lobbyists, and state legislators ruled by greed.”
* THE RIGHT TO A STRONG ETHICS COMMISSION: He’d give it the power to initiate investigations and prosecutions independently and shift the standard for an inquiry from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion.” He require Ethics Commision spot audits of campaign finance reports. He’d increase staff and funding. He’d switch appointment of commissioners from partisan politicians to nominees of an independent committee comprising law school deans, prosecutors
* THE RIGHT TO A GOVERNMENT NOT RULED BY LOBBYISTS AND SPECIAL INTERESTS. Lobbyists would have to disclose in a public database the bills and amendments they are lobbying. He’d require all state business to be done on state telephones and e-mail addresses and that text messages are archived. Legislators would have to disclose meetings with lobbyists. Lobbyists would have to wear name tags in the Capitol. He’d increase the cooling-off period for moving from an elected office to lobbying to five years.
*THE RIGHT TO LAWMAKERS WHO DON’T TAKE GIFTS AND MONEY: They’d be required to disclose any business, consulting, a preferred arrangement with a lobbyist or a company that employs a lobbyist. There’d be a total ban on gifts, including free meals and drinks. There’d be a ban on trips anywhere paid by an outside entity. He’d revoke the pensions of elected officials convicted of abuse of power or corruption. He calls for an end to directed grants and General Improvement Fund spending.
* THE RIGHT TO TRANSPARENCY IN ELECTIONS. He’d ban corporate contributions to PACs and require donor disclosure for any entity spending money on political activity.
What’s not to like?