“Rebuild the Rock” Campaign Committee Reports Spending $ 330,000 on Failed Little Rock Sales Tax Referendum

The “Rebuild the Rock” campaign committee said it spent nearly $ 330,000 in unsuccessful efforts to enact a sales tax increase in Little Rock, according to the campaign finance committee’s final report filed Thursday. with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

The committee said it received a total of $ 346,150 in contributions during the campaign.

The one percentage point increase championed by Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. as a vehicle to fund quality of life initiatives in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic failed in a September 14 referendum across the city, from 62% to 38%.

The “Rebuild the Rock” committee, as well as an opposition committee on legislative issues called “Responsible Taxation for Little Rock”, were both under investigation by the Ethics Commission in late September because of complaints detailing inaccuracies and omissions in their campaign finance. documents filed by lawyer and blogger Matt Campbell.

[DOCUMENT: LR sales tax campaign finance report » arkansasonline.com/1016filing/]

Campbell’s blog, the Blue Hog Report, published on September 27 correspondence from the Ethics Commission showing that the commission had opened investigations into the two committees based on his complaints.

The letters of notification to Campbell were both dated September 24 and signed by the commission’s director, Graham F. Sloan.

Earlier this month, in another blog post, Campbell noted missing information about contributors in the tabled documents and inaccurate spending reports on both committees.

The “Rebuild the Rock” committee then filed amended reports with the commission, but the reports did not contain information on how the dollars paid to a political consulting firm, McLarty Consulting, were then transferred to some. providers for services such as advertising and social media, Campbell noted in the September 27 blog post.

Scott and several allies, including Senator Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, were co-chairs of the “Rebuild the Rock” committee. Deputy Mayor Lance Hines, who represents Ward 5 on city council and frequently clashes with Scott on politics, helped lead the opposition committee.

As of Friday afternoon, the final fundraising report for the “Responsible Taxation for Little Rock” campaign was not available on the Ethics Commission website. The deadline for filing the final report was 30 days after the election.

According to the group’s pre-election report filed with the commission on September 7, the committee had received a cumulative total of $ 58,730 in contributions and reported spending just over $ 24,000.

When contacted by email on Friday, Hines wrote: “We have received the ethics complaint and will respond to it as soon as possible. Our response to the complaint will speak for itself when filed. . We also tabled our final report within 30 days of today’s election. “

Alli Clark Howland, a McClarty Consulting official who served as a spokesperson for the “Rebuild the Rock” campaign committee, did not respond to email questions on Friday regarding the Ethics Commission investigation.

Contributions listed in the “Rebuild the Rock” committee’s final report include a donation of $ 100,000 from the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization affiliated with the Little Rock Zoo.

An earlier report filed by the committee listed a contribution of $ 25,000 from the Zoological Foundation dated August 12, although the final report only listed a cumulative contribution of $ 100,000 from the group.

The Little Rock Zoo was to get $ 30 million for capital investment, plus $ 10 million to cover operating expenses over the 10-year sales tax, according to the non-binding spending resolution approved in June by City Council.

The money would have financed the construction of two new exhibitions devoted respectively to giraffes and North American wildlife.

Additionally, other donations to the sales tax campaign included $ 5,000 each from Steuart and Thomas Walton, descendants of the Walton family.

The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce – a local business group that ultimately approved the tax after its president expressed previous reservations – contributed $ 15,000 to the campaign on Aug. 27, according to an amended report received on Aug. 17. September.

Baptist Health donated $ 10,000 on September 1, according to the same report.

According to the final report on fundraising for the “Rebuild the Rock” campaign, September 8 to October 8. During the reporting period, spending by category was approximately $ 40,600 in advertising, $ 23,300 in direct mail, $ 23,800 in telephone work, $ 29,400 in outreach or community engagement, and $ 11,500. in fresh.

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