Gov. Asa Hutchinson called on his main rival and the Democratic Party of Arkansas to pull a radio ad run that he says violates Arkansas ethics laws. The DPA apparently agreed.
Hutchinson, the incumbent Republican governor, sent a letter on Wednesday (Oct. 17) to DPA Chairman Michael John Gray, declaring that a $15,429 ad buy advocating for Jared Henderson, the Democratic nominee, had exceeded contribution limits.
State law allows for political parties to provide up to $2,700 worth of contributions to a candidate per election.
“The ads paid for by the DPA not only expressly advocate for Mr. Henderson, but Mr. Henderson also chides me for not doing more to ferret out unethical behavior in Arkansas. As suggested by the ad, I want to be sure to call your attention to the ethical violation of the ads. The ads violate Arkansas law by being contributions in excess of legal limits and I request that the ads be pulled down,” Hutchinson wrote in his letter to Gray.
“I am writing this letter assuming that the violation was based upon a misunderstanding of the requirements of Arkansas law. Regardless, this constitutes a violation of law that justifies action by the Arkansas Ethics Commission. I trust the Commission’s review will not be necessary since the law is clear on this violation,” he wrote.
Democratic Party of Arkansas Communications Director Reed Brewer released a statement to Talk Business & Politics shortly after the letter was made public.
“Upon further review of the radio advertisements in question, the Democratic Party of Arkansas has decided to suspend additional runs. As a party, we are committed to transparency and to following all ethical rules and standards,” Brewer said.
A spokesperson for the Henderson for Governor campaign deferred to the DPA statement from Brewer.
According to a radio script provided by Hutchinson, a narrator discusses corruption in Arkansas and touts Henderson’s platform to strengthen ethics laws.
“We’re drowning in corruption here in Arkansas. Elect Jared Henderson as Governor. He will deny public pensions to convicted legislators and strengthen the Arkansas Ethics Commission,” the narrator says.
Henderson said leadership can’t look “the other way” when scandals occur. “We need leadership in the Governor’s Mansion that understands that even when something is not necessarily your fault, it is your responsibility to take action to prevent it from happening in the future,” Henderson says in the ad.
The ad ends with the narrator encouraging voters to support Henderson for Governor and states that it is an ad paid for by the Democratic Party of Arkansas.
The ad buy started on Oct. 15 and was slated to continue through November 5th on KURB, KOKY, KARN, KLAL, and KIPR – all central Arkansas radio stations.