posted by Mr. Toast at Thursday, March 24, 2005
With a record 3,176 pieces of legislation flying around the capitol this session, one can reasonably expect a large number of bills that are drafted primarily for the benefit of special interests groups—including particular political parties and their ‘anointed’ candidates.I submit as an example House Bill 2939 by Rep. Ken Cowling (D-Foreman), a bill to allow the wealthy pals of politicians to pay off campaign debt in excess of normal campaign contribution limits. That’s right, folks, while the contributions of mom and pop and you and me are zealously monitored by those who fear our generous support for political candidates could corrupt the fragile political process, those who have the finances and cunning foresight to co-sign on a loan for a candidate’s political warchest will be able to circumvent such limits when paying off the loan. The peasant class—the outsiders, who just want to help support a candidate who shares their values, are limited to a cumulative one thousand dollar contribution per election (primaries, general, etc.) for those seeking a state office. But the insiders—the ones we’d suspect campaign contribution limits were meant to keep in check, would now be able to exert influence early by simply signing on the dotted line of a loan for their choice of aspiring politician.Utterly unbelievable! And just how was this bill inspired? Remember Jimmie Lou Fisher? She was the Clinton crony who ran against Governor Huckabee in 2002. Taking a risky gamble, Fisher took out a loan for $275,000 to enable her to go toe to toe with Huckabee. The loan was co-signed by her then campaign manager, one Vince Insalaco. Needless to say, Fisher’s campaign ended in defeat, and she’s been spending the last 3+ years trying to pay off the debt (including a stint as a paid staffer for the Blanche Lincoln U.S. Senate campaign last year). Well, the 2006 elections are rolling around, and Jimmie Lou Fisher is rumored to be eyeing a run for lieutenant governor. However, Fisher still has campaign debt from her last race to pay, and she certainly doesn’t want a repeat of her ’02 gubernatorial effort should she need to take out another loan for her next race. Obviously, Mr. Insalaco has the funds to pay off the balance of Fisher‘s previous debts, but doing so would get the both of them in trouble because such an action would violate current campaign finance laws. The solution? Find yourself a legislator in your political party to bend the rules for you and yell loudly about how the law is broken and must be fixed. Thus Rep. Cowling’s HB2939, which would enable Insalaco to finish paying Fisher’s 2002 loan in time for her to run for election with a clean financial slate. How convenient!Rep. Cowling is complaining that current election law allows people to get into a bind here because it doesn’t prohibit people from co-signing on loans, only paying on a loan to an amount in excess of a person’s contribution limit. Of course, we couldn’t possibly expect legislation that bans the co-signing on loans which are in excess of the $1000 limit. That would make too much sense! But more importantly, it wouldn’t help Jimmie Lou Fisher in her run for Lt. Gov in ’06. I personally think most campaign finance laws are overbearing and are a poor substitute for an electorate who should be researching candidates for themselves rather than relying on Big Media and glitzy fliers coming in the mail (thus providing an impetus for obscenely financed campaigns). But the laws are our laws, and if our legislators are going to place limitations on the peoples’ financial support for candidates, then the laws should apply to EVERYONE and not just we ‘peons.’Additionally, what does all this say about a candidate who seeks to run our state yet undertakes risky financial schemes that require special legislation to bail herself out of money woes? We have enough financial straits in Arkansas without electing someone who can’t balance their checkbook within the legal limits in which everyone else is required to operate.
I'm surprised that the Democrats have gotten to the point where they will actually change the laws- usually they simply break the campaign finance laws, then claim that the solution is more laws!
Poor Ken It Looks like Hes trying to peer out of the shadow of Barbra Horn with any ole piece of nonsense that will get him noticed
RE: Democrats usually violate campaign finance law first, then scream for more laws...My guess is that they don't have the luxury of time here. Apparently, Jimmie Lou has just begun to seriously consider Lt Gov., and a legal entaglement about campaign finance law violations would not only be costly economically, but politically as well.
We, the people, who elect these individuals; should demand that they play the games by the rules they set. It is as though observing children who don't like the consequence of their actions in a game or the fact that they are losing the game suddenly decide to change the rules so they can begin to win the game. It's a common playground manipulation that the ADULTS, who are charged with watching these interactions, are supposed to prevent from happening in order to keep the game FAIR and give every child the same opportunity on a level playing field.
So, Jimmie Lou worked for Blanche to pay off her campaign debt and is now looking to run for Lt. Gov.? Has anyone thought that her Lt. Gov. run might be a Blanche Lincoln "pay-back" aimed at Sen. Jim Holt? He did garner 44% against Lincoln in the last U.S. Senate race. Hummm... Even 44% hurts when an opponent's not expecting it.
I'm sure Fisher's position in Lincoln's '04 Senate campaign was just the Democrats looking out for one another (especially the whole female pack thing that is often observeable on the left), and I believe that Jimmie Lou's desire to run for Lt. Gov has more to do with her desire to be in the limelight than it has to do with Jim Holt. But you may be right...
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