Regnat Populus, the grassroots good government group, has begun its effort to tighten campaign finance law and increase the transparency of campaign spending.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday released an opinion rejecting a first draft of a proposed constitutional amendment, but that was expected and changes are already in the mill. The measure aims at regulating “electioneering communications” (think ads transparently meant to have political impact but lacking explicit advocacy words like “vote against”; to require reporting of contributors to independent expenditure campaigns, and it urges Arkansas lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment to negate the Citizens United ruling.
McDaniel rejected the proposal for various ambiguities and typographical errors. The people working on it expected and this and will be working on revisions. Plus, they plan to add some ideas to tighten newly approved Issue 3, which allows some exceptions for gifts to legislators already being exploited (travel paid by outside groups, for example) and also to prohibit contributions by PACs to state campaigns if the PACs accept corporate money.
The ban on corporate contributions to individual political campaigns may prove in the short run one of the greatest advancements in Issue 3. Some legislators would have no campaign money at all but for corporate money. A lawsuit will be filed to attempt to overturn this restriction. In the meanwhile, candidates may have to scramble. Or run cheaper campaigns. Of course, independent dark-money groups will stay busy, such as the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity.
It’s not an easy path to the 2016 ballot. But national groups’ interest in repealing Citizens United could translate into some financial support for this ballot effort.