Remember Arkansans for Transparency, the organization formed by Republicans to fight two ballot proposals intended to diminish partisan influence in government?
The fight was successful. The Arkansas Supreme Court blocked proposals to amend the constitution to establish a nonpartisan legislative districting commission and to end party primaries in Arkansas in favor of a single open primary with runoffs established by ranked-choice voting. A technical ruling on a question of semantics pertaining to paid canvassers did the ballot drives in.
Arkansans for Transparency intervened in the lawsuit, in which Secretary of State John Thurston was being defended by the attorney general’s office.
The committee spent most of its money on legal fees — almost $250,000 to the Friday Law Firm, $23,000 to Wright, Lindsey and Jennings and $37,000 to Republican foot soldier A.J. Kelley.
Gilmore Strategy Group (aka Asa Inc.) got its customary tribute in all matters Republican, $30,000 for its news release work.
And then the final report on the raising of $368, 827 lists an expenditure of $20,000 to Doyle Webb, chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party for “fund-raising.”
I asked him why he was paid $20,000.
He said: “Fund raising.”
I said, yes, but what did you do to raise the money?
He responded that the payment was a “percentage of the total raised.”
So Webb got a 5 percent commission but it doesn’t appear he had to work the phones too hard to round up the cash.
Warren Stephens kicked in $100,000. Ronnie Cameron added $80,000. Members of the Rockefeller family provided $80,000. Webb’s own Arkansas Republican Party chipped in $60,000. Sam Fiori of Fort Smith provided $50,000. Sen. Tom Cotton’s campaign treasury provided $7,500. A national Republican PAC gave $7,500.
In these Trumpian days, the fight for good government seems to frequently entail some profit for those involved.