THE INAUGURAL BALL SETTING: It wasn't cheap. Shayla Copas Interiors


Gov. Asa Hutchinson
announced, according to the Democrat-Gazette, that he had donated $200,000 remaining from his inaugural festivities to the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation. So we decided to get a fuller financial report.

First: HE donated money elsewhere? Money raised for his inauguration was given to HIM to decide how to spend after buying flowers and stuff?

Well, not exactly. The money is laundered through the Arkansas Republican Party. He clearly has the power over that outfit to tell it how to spend the surplus. And his directed contribution went for a nominal state use — such as paying for the first-class air upgrades AEDC director Mike Preston uses on AEDC travel to China and elsewhere and to pay for drinks at economic development events, among others.

I asked the governor’s office for an accounting of contributions and expenditures for the inaugural events, which included a barbecue one night at the Museum of Discovery and a formal ball the next at the Marriott. I was referred to the secretary of state’s website and the filing of the Arkansas GOP. That report is a combination of all fund-raising and expenditures by the party. It is not delineated by inaugural expenses. I was also told this wasn’t a full report of inaugural finances. It only reports contributions and spending through December 31. The remainder of the reporting won’t be available until the April 15 report.

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A specific report on which special interests paid for the inauguration and how their money was spent this isn’t. I asked the governor’s office for that. I got no response.

So here’s the 80-page quarterly report for the period ending Dec. 31.

It shows contributions of just over $1 million and expenditures of $1.2 million. We can guess that some of the big financial contributions are for inaugural expenses. Such as this half-million or so, not counting the big contributions listed from a couple of political campaigns, which can give surplus to political parties:

Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, $7,500; Atria (tobacco), $5,000; Anthony Timberlands, $7,500; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, $30,000; Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and its PAC and the related Associated Industries PAC, $30,000; Arvest Bank, $20,000; Asa’s campaign, $100,000; AT&T, $10,000; Bank of the Ozarks, $30,000; Joe Basore of Bella Vista, $30,000; Burris Project Solutions, $12,500; Deborah Cape of Cox Communications, $12,500; Centene Management, $20,000; Delta Dental, $30,000; Farmer Enterprises of Jonesboro, $7,500; Terry Fleming of Perfect 10 Distributing, $10,000; Jeffrey Fox, $10,000; French Hill’s campaign, $160,000; George’s Inc., $7,500; Rush Harding, $5,000; JCD Consulting of Beebe, $7,500; Lexicon Management, $7,500; Rick Massey, $20,000; Mountaire Corporation, $30,000; Oaklawn, $30,000; OK Foods, $12,500; Paladino and Co., $7,500; Pharmacy Care of Arkadelphia, $30,000; Potlatch Deltic, $7,500; Lisenne Rockefeller, $45,000; Snell Prosthetc, $7,500; Arkansas Bankers Associaton, $12,500; Madison and Suzanne Murphy Trust, $12,500; Stephens Group LLC, $30,000; Tyson Foods, $30,000; Wayne Farms of Georgia, $12,500; Wright Lindsey and Jennings PAC, $8,500.

Expenditures? Pages and pages. Here are some that could be inaugural related:

$16,758 to the Cloth Connection in Spring Valley, N.Y (table linen supplier).; $135,000 to CWP Productions of Little Rock, which does custom event lighting and sound; $19,000 to the Emerald City Band; $20,000 to Illuminated Trees of Chatsworth, Calif; $49,748 to Impact Management, a political consulting/lobbying firm; more than $23,000 to JCD Consulting of Beebe (political operative Chase Dugger); $13,600 to Kim Seybert Inc. of New York (a purveyor of fancy table decorations); $57,489 to the Little Rock Marriott; $11,525 to Little Rock Tours, a charter bus operator; more than $200,000 to Majority Strategies of Ponte Vedra, Fla. (a political marketing firm and, I’m guessing, more likely related to political work); $7,500 to Museum of Discovery; more than $27,000 to Shayla Copas Interiors; $19,800 to Sparkles Home of Irving, Texas, a seller of decorative items; $45,299 to Tipton and Hurst (owners of this floral and decorative operation include Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage)

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Easy come, easy go.