Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's Leadership PAC recently contributed to two Arkansas Republican candidates, but one of the Republican candidates returned the contribution.
McDaniel's PAC, aptly named McDaniel Leadership PAC, contributed $1,000 to Republican State Senator-elect Bart Hester and $250 to Republican State Rep. Davy Carter, according to the PAC's latest filings with the Secretary of State.
Hester returned the $1,000 contribution saying he couldn't accept the funds since he would not be supporting McDaniel in the 2014 Governor's race.
These contributions to Republicans were a significant political misstep on McDaniel's and/or his organization's part, in my opinion. McDaniel first must secure the Democratic nomination for Governor, and contributing to Republicans — albeit unopposed Republicans — is generally not looked on favorably by the Party faithful. There are plenty of other Democratic candidates that could have used the funds originally sent to the Republican candidates.
Moreover, Bart Hester has already been bought and paid for by Crossland Construction Company and the Koch Brothers, so a measly $1,000 doesn't go very far.
Frankly, it's a bit of a kick in the teeth to see a statewide Democratic elected official contribute to Republican candidates. Democrats don't always agree on everything, but we've got to support our own candidates first. It's basic party
-building. None of the potential Republican candidates for Governor have contributed to any Democrats, as far as I know.
To make amends, watch for Dustin McDaniel to make a large contribution this year to the Democratic Party of Arkansas for it's election efforts. I predict McDaniel will do it publicly at next month's DPA State Convention or Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
According to the PAC filings, McDaniel's PAC has raised a total of $361,709, spent $214,124 on administrative costs (read: running for Governor expenses) and has $74,820 cash on hand.
To his credit, McDaniel's PAC has contributed $70,000 to Democratic candidates, significantly more than any other potential 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate. And McDaniel has appeared at Democratic fundraisers for legislative candidates, so he is doing his part for Democrats in 2012.
Hopefully, these contributions by McDaniel's PAC to Republicans were a one-time mistake.
UPDATE: I received this response from Dustin McDaniel this morning:
I am currently the only officer of the PAC, so I'll respond to your question.
Hyper-partisanship is not working in Washington, and it is not going to work in Arkansas. My decision to help an unopposed GOP nominee for the Arkansas Senate retire his campaign debt was made with this view in mind.
The only other GOP candidate I can recall contributing to is Rep. Carter. Again, he was without Democratic opposition.
I have received Sen-Elect Hester's refund check.
The McDaniel Leadership PAC has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Arkansas Democrats, including giving and planning donations to every Democratic House and Senate candidate on the ballot this fall.
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