Monday, July 2, 2007

Buying Influence

Lobbyists affiliated with local chambers of commerce and other business interests have established a Northwest Arkansas Political Action Committee in an effort to “build relationships” through campaign contributions to political candidates statewide.

Martine Downs, lobbyist for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, recently filed paperwork to establish the PAC to influence political campaigns, which she admitted was “another tool for us to work on issues, promoting the business interests of the region.”

Although the Northwest Arkansas PAC isn’t legally connected with any chamber of commerce or with the Northwest Arkansas Council, Scott Van Laningham, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and Bill Ramsey, CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce are prominent members listed. Mike Malone, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said the idea behind the PAC is “to better coordinate our efforts in support of a business agenda.”

As if a majority of Arkansas legislators are not already toadies for business interests and corporate welfare, this additional effort to give them money up front should make them even more obedient.

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