Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wal-Mart flies Gov Around Before ABC Vote

By Mark Moore (click "comments" below for article).

17 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

The law states:
"AR 3-4-218
No new liquor permit shall be issued to, nor any outstanding liquor permit be transferred to any person, firm, or corporation wherein the permitted premises of the liquor permit-tee is operated as part of the profit making business of any drug, grocery, sporting goods, dry goods, hardware, or any general mercantile stores or any other business unrelated to the retail package sale of such liquor.
"

Despite this, SAM's wanted to have a hard liqour store tucked neatly inside it's proposed new Springdale SAM's. State Senator Jim Holt and others objected. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted 4-0 to deny the liqour permit.

SAM's decides they will build in Fayetteville instead. This time the board votes 3-2 in favor of the permit. Governor Mike Huckabee's campaign finance manager, Ron Fuller, and a manager of one of his PACs, J.J. Vigneault, cast two of the three Wal-Mart votes.

The Arkansas Times blog (www.arktimes.com) is reporting that a few weeks ago Wal-mart put one of its corporate jets at the Governor's disposal to fly him and two aides to a conference across the country.

In addition they report,"Carrie Thum, who, you may recall, filed a report with the ABC (just for transparency purposes, the company assured the public) of her chitchat with Fuller and Vigneault at the Capital Hotel bar a few days before the ABC vote. Fuller and Vigneault used the occasion to mention charities they were raising money for -- penguins for Vigneault, woodpecker-watching for Fuller."

There was also a long list of "conservative Republican" officeholders who backed SAM's successful effort. Many of those same names show up on a list of people that have received donations from Wal-Mart.

10:20 PM, July 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another example of the ethical problems of Mike Beebe.

11:05 AM, July 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you being sarcastic? This has nothing to do with Bebee.

7:44 PM, July 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The connection is that Fuller, Vigneult, Andy Crawford etc... are all actively supporting Mike Beebe. He promised them something to get the kind of support he is getting from those smarmy guys.

6:27 AM, July 30, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Toast said...

Actually, to put things into perspective, the board also denied an appeal for the Springdale liquor permit and had initially denied Wal-Mart's/Sam's Club Fayetteville liquor permit. Only after the 'wining and dining' of at least two of the ABC board members by Wal-Mart lobbyists and the flight of the Huckster in a Wal-Mart corporate jet did the appeal finally tilt in Wal-Mart's favor.

That's the good-'ol boy system this state has always been known for. Some things never change.

2:26 PM, July 30, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Moore said...

Hey 6:27,

C'mon, be realistic. I am no fan of Mike Bebee, but you are really stretching to try and put this on him.

Was it Bebee, or Huckabee who got flown to New Hampshire on Wal-Mart's private jet? Was Fuller campaign finance chairman for Bebee or Huckabee? Does Viggnaut run a PAC for Bebee or Huckabee?

The answer in each case is Mike Huckabee.

4:55 PM, July 30, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Toast said...

Don't forget that it was Sen Dave Bisbee (Republican, not to be confused with Mike Beebee the Democrat) from dry Benton county, who cast the deciding senate vote FOR SB1174 to enable cities to create open container zones where club-hoppers could tote their booze around town. Not only are these people NOT conservatives, they don't even rightly represent the people who put them in office. If our elected officials don't represent us well, should we be surprised when their cronies whom they appoint to various commitees, such as the ABC board, behave the same way?

Back stabbers

7:07 PM, July 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You attack Governor Huckabee for using state funds when travelling then you attack him for using private funds for travelling...Give me a break...

This blog is a joke!

2:17 PM, July 31, 2005  
Anonymous Jesse Stearns said...

The filing said that Wal-Mart flew the Governor to a National Governors event in Boston....months before the vote. The do this kind of thing for Governors, Senators, Congressmen all the time....this is much ado about nothing....

3:02 PM, July 31, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Jesse Stearns:

http://arkansastonight.com/wally605.pdf filing from Wal-Mart lists the day of the expense as 5/27/05. The actual vote of the ABC board was not "months" later, but about 5 weeks later (on 07/20/05). This is an issue they have been working on for over a year, so five weeks of separation is still not distance.

I agree that Wal-Mart and others do things like this for our political leaders all the time. Wal-Mart reported it and has every legal right to do it. The question is should we let our political leaders get away with it?

In this particular case the wording of the law is pretty clear. Wal-Mart flies some of our officials around, and hands out $1,000 checks to others, and has a talk with the board members about what their favorite chairities are, and the law no longer matters.

If this is business as usual, then we need to change the way government does business. If this does not bother you, I am truly sorry for you.

4:54 PM, July 31, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I meant seven weeks of course.

4:55 PM, July 31, 2005  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

To anon 2:17.

I don't recall critisizing the Governor for using public funds for his trips. I did critisize Bill Clinton when he flew around the country running for President at taxpayer's expense, so if I thought Mike Huckabee was abusing his privilidges then to be fair about it I would have to hold him to the same standard. Indeed I'd hold him to a higher standard, because I think he is a better man.

As for us critisizing him for using "private funds"....hey if they were HIS OWN private funds then there would be no cause for complaint. HOWEVER, if they were the private funds of some big corporation that wants his administration to give them special exceptions to the laws their competitors have to follow, then I get concerned. Such is the case here.

Government officials should not give any business an expemption from the law, especially not when they are taking favors from the same business.

As for our blog being a "joke", you have a right to your opinion. In my own view, we try to be thoughtful and even handed. This bothers people who are "my party right or wrong types". That mindset is not a joke- it is downright scary, and all too prevelant among rebuplican hacks posing as conservatives.

5:05 PM, July 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It may be unethical, but at least he's in my party"

good grief!

6:27 PM, July 31, 2005  
Anonymous Mark said...

It seems the defenders of business as usual have gotten kind of quiet on this thread. I hope that means that we have opened some eyes and minds.

1:41 PM, August 01, 2005  
Anonymous Jim Branch said...

This blog is full of the self righteous folks that create trouble where there is none. A typical corporate flight 7 weeks before you "proof positive conflict of interest" to a national governors meeting where several of them are being flown to and has been scheduled for probably months is just weak and is much ado about nothing.
you guys are little more than trouble makers.

6:35 AM, August 02, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Moore said...

That is just what King Ahab called Elijah- a trouble maker. Elijah pointed out that it is the one who does evil that is the trouble maker, and not the one who points the evil out. This is so even if the is the King who does the evil.

The law states:
"AR 3-4-218
No new liquor permit shall be issued to, nor any outstanding liquor permit be transferred to any person, firm, or corporation wherein the permitted premises of the liquor permit-tee is operated as part of the profit making business of any drug, grocery, sporting goods, dry goods, hardware, or any general mercantile stores or any other business unrelated to the retail package sale of such liquor.
"

It is clear to me, and to the man who wrote this law (Mahony) that what SAM's is trying to do is against the law. They are so big and powerful though, that they are bulldozing right ahead and doing it anyway. The people charged with upholding the law are instead upholding the interests of the powerful. I have nothing against SAM's or Wal-Mart. It is a great company. They still need to follow the same laws that all their competitors must follow. If we descend into crony capitalism it will destroy our respect for the law and eventually our economy.

7:44 PM, August 02, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Toast said...

Descend into crony capitalism? This state hasn't been above it since antebellum. It's high time we change the way we think about our good 'ol boy elected leaders. This kind of blatant conflict of interest and trampling of our laws should not be defended by anyone, no matter what party.

5:22 PM, August 03, 2005  

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