Gavel Grab

‘Dark Money’ Disclosure Bill Killed by Arkansas House Panel

An Arkansas House Committee has rejected legislation to require disclosure of names of individual donors to “dark money” campaign ads, like those aired in a state Supreme Court election in 2014.

The Law Enforcement Alliance of America  aired some $165,000 in TV advertising that, among other things, accused candidate Tim Cullen of believing that child pornography is a victimless crime. Cullen, who lost to then-Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne, and his supporters said the ad distorted his views, and FactCheck.org called it “misleading” and “beyond the pale” (see Gavel Grab).

ArkansasOnline said in reporting on the House panel vote this week that critics voiced concerns about safeguarding the privacy of political donors. It said about the LEAA, “It was never clear who donated money to the Virginia group for the Arkansas advertising.”

When critics questioned the TV advertising last year, Brad Hendricks, then-chairman of the Arkansas Bar Association Professional Ethics Committee, said, “We have a strong independent judiciary set forth in our Constitution but this dark money can do more to undermine it than anything that could come out of this building behind me or anything that could come out of Congress. It is insidious, it is dangerous, and it really needs to be stopped.”

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