LITTLE ROCK – Today, Mike Lee, the Democratic nominee for Arkansas Attorney General, announced his ethics reform package. At his campaign office headquarters on Broadway Avenue in Little Rock, Lee promised to change the “culture of corruption” currently embroiling the state legislature.
Lee pledged to honor the public’s trust by standing up to the “corrosive influences” and the “immorality” that have seemed to have taken hold of government officials in Little Rock. His election to the office in November, Lee argued, would be the public’s opportunity to “send a signal to the lobbyists and legislators in the state Capitol that the current era of corruption is coming to an end.”
Read Lee’s full remarks below:
It is with great pride that I present to you the 2018 Arkansas Anti-Corruption and Ethics Bill of Rights.
This is a chance for Arkansas voters to send a signal…to the lobbyists and legislators in the state Capitol that the current era of corruption is coming to an end. The Attorney General election is the chance voters have to do something about the bribery, greed, and downright immorality in our government right now.
Arkansas voters now have a choice – to vote for real ethics laws. This is what my campaign is all about.
Faced with an ever-growing mountain of corruption, the people of Arkansas will have a chance to send a signal, to pushback, and to say “no more.”
My election to the Attorney General’s office will be a clear mandate one that can not be ignored. This proposal, the Arkansas Anti-Corruption and Ethics Bill of Rights is clear. Voters have a chance this election to speak forcefully, and get real ethics laws on the books.
There is a culture of corruption in Arkansas that has gone unchecked. It begins with ease of access and the false comfort of anonymity. It can snowball, into free trips to private luxury resorts – like those my opponent has been known to take and it can end, as we’ve seen, in federal prison. But conviction only comes after bad laws are already passed and after your taxpayer dollars are wasted on schemes fueled by bribery and criminal influence.
The Ethics Bill of Rights will:
- Transform the Ethics Commission into a tough, independent body charged with auditing lawmakers, initiating investigations, and launching prosecutions.
- Rein in the power of lobbyists and special interests, and bring there behind the scenes lifestyles into the public arena.
- Ban public officials from taking gifts and paid trips…and restrict business dealings that might influence their behavior in government.
- Increase transparency in elections and in dark money groups.
This is our chance, this is our year, to take concrete action in the face of a new era of corruption and immorality in Arkansas.
For those that seek to do wrong, I have a message for you – a new Attorney General, a real watchdog, is coming to the state Capitol. Your day is done.
I personally pledge, to honor the people’s trust and to stand up, with all that I have, to the corrosive influences, that are now running rampant in our state. I want Arkansas voters to know, that I have made a solemn vow, a promise to be their watchdog in the state Capitol. They can trust me, to stay out of the swamp, and to whole-heartedly reject, and oppose the immorality taking place in their names.
My name is Mike Lee, and I’m running to be Attorney General.
Check out the press coverage:
Mike Lee proposes government ethics package by Max Brantley, Arkansas Times
Arkansas AG hopeful: Increase fines for ethics violations, Associated Press
Read Lee’s outline of 2018 Arkansas Anti-Corruption and Ethics Bill of Rights below:
Arkansans have a right to a government that is free from the corrupting influences of self-interested power brokers, high-rolling lobbyists, and state legislators ruled by greed. The laws of Arkansas shall reflect our state motto Regnat Populus, “The People Rule.”
The Right to a Strong Ethics Commission
- Grant the Arkansas Ethics Commission the power to initiate investigations independently and launch prosecutions; shift standard from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion.”
- Require the Ethics Commission to conduct spot audits of all campaign finance and disclosure related documents; increase staff and funding.
- Commissioners nominated by independent committees comprised of law schools deans, district attorneys, and retired judges; end system of partisan political appointment currently in place.
- Increase the maximum fine per violation from $2,000 to $10,000.
- End the “mulligan” rule that allows state lawmakers to get a do-over on illegal campaign finance filings.
The Right to a Government Not Ruled by Lobbyists and Special Interests
- Lobbyists must disclose in a new public database which bills and amendments they are lobbying.
- Require all state business be done on state telephones and e-mail addresses. Text messages must be archived.
- State Legislators must report meetings with lobbyists in a public database.
- Require name tags for lobbyists inside the State Capitol.
- Five year cooling off period between being an elected official and becoming a lobbyist.
The Right to Lawmakers Who Don’t Take Gifts and Money
- Require disclosure for any business, consulting, preferred arrangement, or contract with a registered lobbyist or entities that employ registered lobbyists.
- A total gift ban, including free meals and drinks, for elected officials.
- A ban on in-state, out-of-state, and international paid trips from any entity for any purpose.
- Revoke elected officials’ pensions for abuse-of-power and corruption-related convictions.
- End legislator-directed grants and General Improvement Fund (GIF) spending.
The Right to Transparency in Elections
- Ban corporations from contributing to PACs.
- Disclose donors for any entity spending money on political activity.