Benji Hardy reports from a legislation Education Committee meeting today that a group of parents and students appeared today and give members boxes of crayons as part of their presentation.
Sen. Joyce Elliott said the legislators would have to give the crayons back because of Issue 3, the recently approved constitutional amendments on ethics.
If things happened as described, I’m not sure Elliott is right. The amendment prohibits legislators from accepting anything of value, with some specific exceptions, from ” a lobbyist, a person acting on behalf of a lobbyist, or a person employing or contracting with a lobbyist.” But the amendment defines a lobbyist as someone who is paid or expends at least $400 on lobbying activities. If there were no conventionally paid lobbyists in the group, or anyone acting in behalf of such a person or a person who contracts otherwise with a lobbyist, the gifts were OK. Unless they were worth more than $400.
David Couch, who helped write the ethics measure, offers this opinion:
To get to the bottom of the crayon controversy you’d have to ask – who paid for the crayons and not who delivered the crayons.
If the AEA paid for them they couldn’t take them.
If it was the Forest Park PTA then I think it would be ok
Rep. Duncan Baird, an advocate of the no-freebies rule, observes on Twitter:
@ArkansasBlog If they were also made available for citizens attending, It might fall under exception for items available to gen public, too
Then comes lobbyist Cammie Boggess:
@ArkansasBlog Doesn’t the State Association of PTAs have a lobbyist, and wouldn’t that then prevent the Forest Park PTA from giving?
Easy solution to all this. No gifts.