The Quapaw and Cherokee tribes last month together sent $1 million more to the Driving Arkansas Forward committee that is promoting a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the state to license four casinos, the committee reported Wednesday.
The proposal isn't on the Nov. 6 general election ballot yet. Backers of the proposal have until Aug. 24 to turn in roughly 15,000 more signatures of registered voters in their effort to qualify the proposal for the ballot. They turned in 70,054 valid signatures last month, but 84,859 signatures are required, according to Secretary of State Mark Martin's office.
"As we move toward securing a place for this issue for the Nov. 6 ballot, we have continued to raise public awareness of how expanded casino gaming will benefit the Arkansas economy," Nate Steel, counsel for the Driving Arkansas Forward and Arkansas Job Coalition committees, said in a written statement.
Wednesday was the deadline for ballot question committees to file campaign finance reports for July with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
In addition to the casino proponents' report, the Arkansans For A Fair Wage committee -- which is promoting a proposed initiated act to raise the state's minimum wage -- reported receiving a $350,000 contribution from the Washington, D.C.-based 1630 Fund, a 501(C)(4) group. The group has backed more than 45 initiatives and managed more than $75 million for campaigns on social and environmental issues, according to its website.
The proposed initiated act would raise the state's minimum wage of $8.50 an hour to $11 an hour by 2021. The committee, led by attorney David Couch, also is waiting to hear whether it submitted enough additional valid signatures to the secretary of state's office to qualify for the ballot. It needs 67,887 valid signatures. It's short by about 10,000.
Reports also were given for and against a proposal on legislative term limits.
The Driving Arkansas Forward committee received $1.01 million in contributions last month to increase the amount that it's raised in contributions to about $2.2 million, according to its report filed Wednesday.
The Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Tribe in Quapaw, Okla., contributed $489,000 last month to increase its total contributions to $1.2 million. The Cherokee Nation Businesses LLC in Catoosa, Okla., contributed $525,300 to the committee last month to boost its total to $1.05 million.
The Driving Arkansas Forward committee reported spending $1.49 million last month to bolster its total expenses to $2.2 million, leaving $61,086.99 in the campaign account as of July 31.
The committee's expenses last month included $750,000 to Maryland-based Targeted Platform Media LLC for television advertising, more than $680,000 to the Arkansas Jobs Coalition committee for petition canvassing and $32,350 to Gilmore Strategy Group for polling expenses.
Jon Gilmore, who also is Gov. Asa Hutchinson's chief political strategist, is president and co-founder of the Gilmore Strategy Group. The group is a full-service consulting firm specializing in political strategy, government relations and lobbying, opinion research and communication, according to its website.
Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis has said the Republican governor won't take a position on the proposed ballot proposal until it qualifies for the ballot.
The proposed constitutional amendment would authorize the Arkansas Racing Commission to issue licenses for casinos to an applicant in Jefferson County within 2 miles of Pine Bluff, in Pope County within 2 miles of Russellville, to Southland Racing Corp. at or adjacent to Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, and to Oaklawn Jockey Club Inc. at or adjacent to Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs.
State law now permits Oaklawn and Southland to offer so-called electronic games of skill, so the ballot proposal would allow them to expand their gambling operations. Neither firm has taken a position on the proposed measure yet.
Quapaw Tribe officials have expressed interest in getting a license for a casino in Jefferson County, while a Cherokee Nation Businesses spokesman said his tribe would be eager to pursue a presence in Pope County if voters approve the proposed constitutional amendment and if Pope County residents agree that a casino would draw economic development and jobs to the area.
The Arkansas Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Alliance committee reported receiving no contributions and spending $1,325 for legal services with the law firm of Friday, Eldredge & Clark LLP last month. The group received total contributions of $20,000 and spent $12,414.14 through July 31.
Eric Jackson, senior vice president of Oaklawn, is the chairman and treasurer for the committee, which "intends to monitor and comment on the proposed constitutional amendments and other measures that may affect thoroughbred racing and/or breeding activities in Arkansas," according to its statement of organization filed with the Ethics Commission.
A committee opposing the proposed constitutional amendment also filed a statement of organization with the Ethics Commission on Monday. The Family Council Action Committee's president is gambling opponent Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council. Its treasurer is Reg Hamman of North Little Rock and its director is Ruth Carney of Hot Springs, according to its filing.
The Arkansans For A Fair Wage committee reported raising $350,000 last month from the 1630 Fund to boost its total contributions received to $505,300. It spent $374,486.50 last month to increase its total expenses to $475,357.58, leaving $29,942.42 in its campaign kitty on July 31.
The committee spent more than $370,000 last month with Georgia-based National Ballot Access on canvassing petitions, according to its report.
The Arkansans for a Strong Economy committee, which opposes the proposed act and formed last month, reported no contributions or spending last month.
The group's chairman is Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Randy Zook. The group's vice chairmen are Arkansas Hospitality Association Executive Director Montine McNulty and Arkansas Oil Marketers Association Executive Vice President Steve Ferren.
Another proposed constitutional amendment would limit state senators to serving two four-year terms and representatives to serving three two-year terms and all lawmakers to serving a maximum of 10 years in the Legislature.
The U.S. Term Limits committee reported receiving $54,428 last month from the U.S. Term Limits general fund to increase its fundraising to $475,553.60. The committee spent $54,428 with Georgia-based National Ballot Access for paid petition management to boost its total expenses to $475,553.60.
The committee previously reported spending $421,125.60 with Arno Petition Consultants.
U.S. Term Limits advocates for term limits at all levels of government, according to its website. U.S. Term Limits' board of directors includes Tim Jacob of Little Rock, who is a spokesman for the Arkansas' Term Limits ballot question committee. A report for July for the Arkansas Term Limits committee wasn't posted on the Ethics Commission' website as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The Family Council Action Committee ballot question committee backing the proposed term limits initiative reported no contributions or spending last month. In total, it's reported receiving $770 in contributions and spending $691.91. Its balance is $78.09.
The Arkansans for Common Sense Term Limits committee opposing the proposed constitutional amendment filed a statement of organization with the Ethics Commission on Aug. 7. Its chairman is Zook, the state chamber of commerce's CEO.
Amendment 94 to the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in 2014, allows lawmakers to serve up to 16 years in the state House of Representatives, the state Senate or in combined service in both chambers. State senators also are allowed to serve a two-year term because of once-a-decade redistricting.
A Section on 08/16/2018
Print Headline: Tribes send $1M more to promote state's casinos issue