Editor’s note: Roby Brock, with our content partner Talk Business, wrote this report. He can be reached at email@example.com
Gov. Mike Beebe (D) said he would support a potential ethics reform proposal on the same day that former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and Lisenne Rockfeller, widow of former Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, endorsed the effort.
Beebe said if the proposal makes the ballot, he’d vote for it.
“An initiative that limits outside influences on government can help build the trust that people deserve to have in their public officials. I’ve always worked to help restore our people’s faith in their government, and I plan to vote for this act if it makes it onto the ballot,” Beebe said in a statement from his office.
The Campaign Finance and Lobbying Reform Act of 2012, which would be listed as Initiated Act 1 if it qualifies for the ballot, is a citizens’ initiative aiming to alter campaign finance and lobbying laws in the state.
It would disallow direct corporate and union contributions to state political campaigns and lengthen the “cooling-off” period that legislators must wait after leaving office before they return as lobbyists from 1 year to 2 years. It would also ban any gifts by lobbyists to legislators, sometimes called “the Walmart rule” referring to the company’s strict policy of banning as much as a cup of coffee to be bought for an elected official.
The measure’s supporters are pursuing collection of at least 62,507 valid voter signatures by July 6 in an effort to qualify it for the November ballot.
On Wednesday (June 6), Better Ethics Now, a bipartisan group of politicos and former elected officials, announced Halter’s and Rockefeller’s support of the proposal. Better Ethics Now is aiding Regnat Populus, the grassroots group collecting signatures for the initiated act.
“Countless Arkansans have expressed their concerns to me about the power of special interests and their desires for a more open and transparent government,” said Halter. “As an advocate for ethics reform and a believer in the power of people to affect change at the ballot box, I urge Arkansans to take matters into their own hands by signing petitions, placing this initiative on the ballot, and passing it in November.”
On Tuesday night (June 5), Better Ethics Now hosted a fundraiser at the Little Rock home of former Cong. Vic Snyder (D). About $12,000 was raised from around 225 attendees, according to Jim Keet, a supporter of the proposal and the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee.
In a Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll released in early April, 69% of Arkansas voters said they would support the ethics and lobbying reform measure. Only 18% said they opposed the initiative and 13% were undecided.
Also on Wednesday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D), Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb, and Democratic Party Chairman Will Bond voiced support for the proposal.