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Jan Morgan offers gun giveaway for campaign cash

Posted: 29 Apr 2018 10:48 AM PDT

The Jan Morgan campaign for governor is holding a raffle open to donors who give at least $50, with the winner receiving a Jan Morgan engraved commemorative Kimber micro 9 handgun. From her website:
The Jan Morgan for Governor campaign is giving away this awesome Kimber micro 9 handgun with Jan Morgan's signature engraved. One lucky supporting patriot will be the proud owner of this highly collectible gun.

Support Jan's campaign with a gift of $50.00 and you'll be entered in for a chance to win this special Jan Morgan engraved commemorative Kimber micro 9 handgun.
I'm no lawyer, but I expect one of those pesky establishment Republicans might file an ethics complaint. State law has fairly picky regulations about raffles, defined as "the selling of tickets to win a prize awarded though a random drawing." In the case of Morgan's raffle, of course, the tickets for the drawing are purchased via campaign donations. (Morgan's website makes this clear in allcaps: ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN BY DONATING WITH FORM BELOW.)

Amendment 87 to the state constitution only allows lotteries if they are established by the General Assembly, with revenues targeted for certain designated purposes. Otherwise they are barred by the constitution. Raffles and games of bingo are allowed under Amendment 84, and are considered separate from lotteries — but only "if all net receipts over and above the actual cost of conducting the game of bingo or raffle are used only for charitable, religious, or philanthropic purposes." Jan Morgan's campaign for governor doesn't fit into any of those categories.

Meanwhile, here are the "authorized organizations" eligible for a license to conduct a raffle under the law: "a nonprofit tax-exempt religious, educational, veterans, fraternal, service, civic, medical, volunteer rescue service, volunteer firefighters organization, or volunteer police organization that has been in continuing existence as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization in this state for a period of not less than five (5) years immediately prior to conducting the game of bingo or raffles." Again, I'll defer to the lawyers, but it seems to me that a campaign should not be in the raffle business under state law.

There are various other rules and regulations which would seem to be a landmine for a campaign running this sort of operation in exchange for campaign cash. You can peruse them at your leisure under Arkansas Code § 23-114, as well as rules created by the Department of Finance and Administration, the relevant regulatory and enforcement agency, to administer the law.

Here is the process
that an authorized organization goes through to get a license via the DFA to operate a legal raffle. It seems clear that they would not qualify for one under the law, but I've asked the Morgan campaign whether it has such a license. Morgan won't respond to queries from the Arkansas Times, so I don't expect an answer, but will update this post if the campaign replies.

A violation of the law on raffles by a licensed authorized organization is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine for the first offense, and a $10,000 fine for subsequent offenses. If a raffle is conducted without a license, that would amount to a violation of the law on lotteries, with the first violation punishable by up to a $10,000 fine; the second or subsequent offense is a Class D felony (a felony conviction, by the way, would make someone ineligible to own a firearm).

An Ethics Commission advisory opinion in 1998 held that campaign raffles were impermissible, but that was well before Amendment 84, passed by voters in 2006, allowed raffles under certain conditions. Again, however, raising money for a political campaign is not one of the allowable categories for legal raffles under Amendment 84; this gun giveaway would appear at first glance to be an illegal and unlicensed "lottery" under the law, which is what that old Ethics opinion addressed. Realistically, I don't think we'll be seeing a DFA raid or a prosecutor taking this to court, but it would be interesting to hear what the Ethics Commission has to say now on the question of campaign raffles if someone decides to file a complaint.

Here's more on the gun giveaway from Morgan's website:


A drawing of supporting donors will take place once this donation campaign reaches 200 entries or by May 21st 2018 latest. All participating supporters will be notified when the drawing will take place and the giveaway results via email. The winner will be notified by email and or phone. We will also draw participating supporter names to award gift prizes that include private gun lessons with Jan, and or signed campaign apparel.

Disclaimer: The winning supporter must be able to show proof of ID and legally be able to pickup up the gun at an authorized gun dealer of our choice. All/Any fees and taxes associated with receiving this gun will be the sole responsibility of the winner.
State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith likes the concept, calling the gun raffle "cool."

Raffles seem to be popular at the Morgan campaign. Last night on Facebook, Morgan livestreamed a campaign event on a cruise boat that was holding a raffle for a cash prize (I've asked the Morgan campaign if this raffle was also a fundraiser for her campaign, as it appears).

Literary open line

Posted: 28 Apr 2018 02:13 PM PDT

Anyone make it out to the Arkansas Literary Festival? Wish I was there.

Barry Hannah would have turned 75 this week. When he died in 2010, I sent condolences to a buddy in Oxford who was studying with him. I told her I wished that I had met him. "You know him," she wrote me. "He's in his stories. That's just how he talked, no kidding."

It's always a good weekend to re-read "Airships."

What else you got?

Tom Cotton and "shameful political behavior"

Posted: 28 Apr 2018 02:04 PM PDT

Hypocrisy in politics is like gossip in an office, a venial sin so widespread it's almost tedious to mention.

But the sheer chutzpah of Tom Cotton's lecturing and hectoring on obstruction over appointments is something to behold. Cotton, regarding the nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, said last week, "Democrats, especially on the Foreign Relations Committee, are really engaged in shameful political behavior." You may recall that Cotton once led the charge to block the nomination of the obviously qualified Sharon Butts to an ambassadorship. Cotton, the Secretary of Spite, was motivated by no concern other than hoping to personally upset and irritate President Obama, a longtime friend of Butts. Butts eventually died of cancer, still waiting for confirmation after 835 days.

Cotton was taken to task for his selective memory on "shameful political behavior" by more critics than I can count last week. Here's a sample, from Steve Benen, who recounted the episode for MSNBC:

After "decades of government and nonprofit work that reflected a passion for public service," Butts received a nomination from Barack Obama to a diplomatic post for which she was well qualified. Her confirmation should've been easy, but the Senate kept putting her nomination on the back-burner – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, blocked her as part of a tantrum against the Iran nuclear deal.

And then there was Tom Cotton, who blocked Butts and two other nominees.

Cotton eventually released the two other holds, but not the one on Butts. She told me that she once went to see him about it, and he explained that he knew that she was a close friend of Obama's – the two first encountered each other on a line for financial-aid forms at Harvard Law School, where they were classmates – and that blocking her was a way to inflict special pain on the president.

Bruni's report added that Cotton's spokesperson "did not dispute Butts's characterization of that meeting."

All of this became even more notable when Butts died at the age of 50 of acute leukemia, which she didn't know she had until her life was nearly over. She waited 835 days for the Senate to vote on her nomination, but the vote never came.

"All Cassandra wanted to do was serve her country," Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told the Times. "Looking back, it is devastating to think that through no fault of her own, she spent the last 835 days of her life waiting for confirmation."
Cotton, writes Benan, "thought it was responsible to use his Senate office to block Butts, not because of the merits of her nomination, because he wanted 'inflict special pain on the president.' If that meant seeing Butts as little more than a pawn on a chessboard, so be it. ... And now Cotton, seemingly comfortable giving lectures from his high horse, wants to point the finger at senators' 'shameful political behavior.' Maybe the Arkansan has forgotten how he treated Cassandra Butts. Perhaps now is a good time to remind him."