Leader Blues

Thursday, June 23, 2005

EDITORIAL>> Do not weep for Asa

The state Ethics Commission ruled Monday that Asa Hutchinson cannot use a $150,000 carryover from his 2000 congressional campaign to help bankroll his campaign for governor.

It happens to be the law, as the Ethics Commissionís Republican chief counsel, Rita Looney, had advised, but it is also common sense.

Hutchinson raised that money nationally under different fund-raising rules, and it came from people who were interested in what he would do or not do in Washington, not how he would steer the government at Little Rock.

Arkansasí campaign-finance law prohibits the transfer, the Ethics Commission said. Hutchinson complains that it is a little unfair (he canít say it was a political ruling since it came from Republicans) and he has half a point. Attorney General Mike Beebe, the likely Democratic nominee, has a carryover from his old campaigns, in which he had no opponent.

The balance is less than half of Hutchinsonís, but the law permits a carryover from a campaign for state office. The issue is pretty much irrelevant to Hutchinsonís GOP primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who generally spends his own money.

The law should prohibit carryovers from all campaigns. Hutchinson, if he is elected governor, can have the legislature take care of that in 2007, although our guess is that his compunctions will dissipate when heís an incumbent.

Meantime, the solution is for Hutchinson to give the excess federal political money to charity, as most politicians do, and then call on Beebe to do the same to level the playing field. Do not worry that Hutchinson will run short of campaign capital.

The money will flow like a raging river.