Tolbert: Recent Governor Appointees Contribute $30,000 To Pryor For Senate

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 180 views 

In case you missed it overshadowed by the Martha Shoffner saga, the Arkansas Democratic Gazette had a nice nugget in an article a couple of weeks ago on the Arkansas Governor’s race.

Beebe’s director of appointments for boards and commissions, Mica Strother, started working on a half-time basis rather than full-time for the governor on Oct. 28 for an annual salary of $41,750 – half her regular salary – said Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample.

Strother directed fundraising for Beebe’s 2010 re-election campaign as the finance director while on a leave of absence from the governor’s office from Jan. 24 to Nov. 16 that year.  She has worked for Beebe in the governor’s and attorney general’s office and his campaigns.

Strother filed papers on Oct. 31 incorporating Strother Strategies, according to records in the secretary of state’s office.

Ross’ campaign has contracted with Strother Strategies since mid-April to consult with Ross’ fundraising staff when needed, said Ross spokesman Brad Howard. He said Dustin Smith, deputy campaign director for finance who has worked for Ross for many years, manages Ross’ fundraising efforts.

Strother Strategies also has been working as a consultant for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor’s re-election campaign since last fall.

Mighty fine reporting from Michael Wickline there.  I will also note the address listed on the registration for Strother Strategies – 1000 West 3rd Street, Little Rock, AR- is the same address as the Markham Group where Strother’s husband, Greg Hale, is a partner and does extensive political consulting for Mike Ross for Governor.

After reading Wickline’s article, I thought it would be interesting to compare the recent appointments made by Gov. Beebe’s office – under Director of Appointments Strother – and cross-check these with contributions made to campaigns where Fundraising Consultant Strother was being paid.

The Pryor for Senate campaign is easy to search as it is electronically filed on the FEC website.  As you can see in the chart below, there have been 19 recent appointments made by Gov. Beebe who gave a total of $29,250 to Pryor’s current campaign for re-election.

Name

Date of Announcement of Appointment

Date of Contribution

Amount

Goyal, Shash

5/9/13

2/21/13

2,500

Ford, Danny

5/9/13

2/12/13

1,000

Moody, Barbara

5/9/13

2/13/13

1,000

Baker, Jim

4/24/13

2/15/13

1,250

Darling, Jamie

4/24/13

3/14/13

1,000

Grimes, Gary

4/24/13

1/27/13 & 3/14/13

3,000

Salmon, Mary Anne

4/8/12

2/14/13

1,250

Futrell, Gary

4/8/12

2/12/13

1,000

Crouch, Courtney

3/20/13

2/7/13

2,500

Dearman, Chuck

3/5/13

1/24/13

5,000

Fuller, Terry

3/5/13 & 2/6/13

3/15/13

250

Bradshaw, Kirk

3/5/13

2/26/13

1,000

Langley, Jerry

2/19/13

3/13/13

2,500

Hui, Anthony

2/6/13

3/18/13

500

Tate, Sherman

1/18/13

3/16/13

1,000

Moore, Robert

1/17/13

1/28/13

2,000

Nixon, Walter

12/3/12

2/21/13

1,000

Keith, Kandi

8/1/12

3/13/13

1,000

Scott, Frank

8/1/12

3/16/13

500

Total

29,250

I will note that I am by no means suggesting any of these names were not qualified for the post to which they were appointed.  There are some fine names on this list.

But it is still noteworthy that the state director in charge of their appointments also works as a fundraiser for a campaign which received nearly $30,000 from these appointees.  Although it does not appear any legal violation occurred, as long as none of the fundraising took place on state time, the connection between appointments and campaign contributions is going to raise some curiosity between separation of duties.

Is it a good idea to have the person helping the Governor make appointments in the morning turn around and help a candidate call on these same folks for political contributions in the afternoon?  Can political appointees/fundraising targets distinguish the difference or is there an unspoken, unwritten quid pro quo?  These are valid concerns.

Strother confirmed that she is fundraising for both the Pryor and Ross campaigns, but said she does not see a conflict and plans to continue in both positions for the foreseeable future.

“I do not see any conflict in the two roles,” said Strother. “At this point, I do not see a time when the arrangement becomes impractical, but certainly I will re-evaluate if it does.”

Of course, I will be looking at similar connections whenever Mike Ross for Governor files his report, and if I ever find the time, I might go back and cross-check the old reports from Beebe for Governor back in 2010.

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