The Associated Press' capitol correspondent Andrew DeMillo analyzes former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's re-entry into Arkansas politics last week.
Halter, who narrowly lost a U.S. Senate challenge to Blanche Lincoln in 2010, has added his name and effort to a bipartisan group of politicos and former elected officials interested in pushing an ethics reform proposal forward.
Better Ethics Now, a committee raising money to help gain enough signatures for the initiative to qualify for the November ballot, held a press conference last week to introduce Halter as an addition to its efforts.
The Campaign Finance and Lobbying Reform Act of 2012 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.
DeMillo surmises that Halter has several upside political reasons — in addition to the “do-gooder” benefit — for signing on with the group.
For Halter, the ethics campaign gives him a chance to stay in the spotlight at a time that many factors seem to be working in his factor. The surprisingly strong showings by congressional hopefuls Scott Ellington and Gene Jeffress over a pair of establishment-backed rivals in last month's primary offered a promising sign to Halter, who has tried to run in the past as an anti-establishment outsider.
And [Cong. Mike] Ross' decision to not seek the gubernatorial nomination offers an opening in that race — setting up a potentially bitter and expensive primary between Halter and McDaniel.
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