John Moritz had a good report this morning in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on a challenge of Democratic state Rep. LeAnne Burch of Monticello by Republican Howard Beaty of Crossett.
Particularly good was Beaty getting questioned about his attack mailer against Burch that said Burch had voted to send taxpayer money to China. What this means is that she voted for the appropriation of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission on three occasions. It includes spending on an office in China.
Let us count the ways that was a stupid thing for Beaty to say.
The AEDC is an agency controlled and budgeted by REPUBLICAN Governor Asa Hutchinson. The governor and others in state government have made multiple trade trips to promote business with China. He’s been accompanied by Commerce Secretary Mike Preston, not only paid by the state but regularly bonused, at the governor’s urging, for his supposedly stellar work, including outreach for Chinese investments in Arkansas. The governor’s son, Asa III, is a lawyer who’s made money off Chinese companies and has joined at least one state trade mission. Major Arkansas companies do enormous business with China — think Walmart and Tyson Foods.
Listen to Beaty crawfish when Moritz brings up the problem with his ad.
When asked about the ad, however, Beaty backed away from his claims about the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, saying he supported Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson — who signed all three appropriation bills — and Commerce Secretary Mike Preston. (All of the funding bills also passed in the House without a dissenting vote.)
“It is something I would question and have discussions on,” Beaty said when asked if he would vote against either the commission’s budget or funding for the China office. “They [Hutchinson and Preston] could have expressed something to me and would have gained my support.”
Oh. I’m guessing he won’t be mailing a corrective on those attack ads.
There’s another breathtaking dose of staggering Republican hypocrisy that Moritz didn’t mention.
Who’s Beaty’s political consultant, the people who help develop attack advertising?
Answer: Gilmore Strategy Group, which I like to call Asa Inc. because it’s led by Jon Gilmore, former deputy chief of staff and campaign fund-raiser for Hutchinson. Its employees include other former Hutchinson staffers, among them J.R. Davis, a former top spokesman whose work included defending the governor’s travels to China and news releases touting Chinese manufacturing deals struck for Arkansas. See photo of Hutchinson’s former employees, all now at Gilmore, that is used on the firm’s webpage to send the not-so-subtle-message that they have a powerful friend who controls a multi-billion-dollar budget.
In short: People once financed by state taxpayers to promote Hutcinson’s expenditures on China are now sending messages trashing those expenditures. And they’ve been paid almost $10,000 by Beaty so far to do it.
The money came from such fat cats as Ronnie Cameron, a big Trump supporter, but no friend of the working stiff.
In the Republican era, facts don’t matter. Truth doesn’t matter. Principle doesn’t matter. Power matters. They will say anything to acquire it. And if political insiders can trade off their connections to public power to score some private cash in the process, well that’s the Trump Way, isn’t it?
PS: I mentioned Beaty and Gilmore before in an item about who mailers by Beaty and a Republican candidate in Ozark that are cookie-cutter versions of the same ad aimed at stoking xenophobic rage about the “China virus.”
PPS: About Gilmore going after Mike Preston for spending in China. Among Gilmore’s other gigs is providing defensive PR for the software development firm that got a $3 million contract from Preston’s agency to set up the trouble-plagued pandemic unemployment assistance program. THERE, they’ll tell you, all is good. It’s all situational, as with Trump. Whatever excuse fits at the moment is the excuse. Contradictions don’t count.