Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

TOP STORY >> Mayor keeping money for race

Leader staff writer

The leadership of the Lonoke County Republican Committee has decided to ask Cabot Mayor Stubby Stum-baugh to give back a $1,000 donation to his campaign for Congress, but the mayor says they need not bother.

The full com-mittee overwhelmingly voted last year to give him that money and he won’t give it back unless the full committee asks for it, he said.

The Monday night committee meeting that heated up over the donation issue was the first since news broke that Patrick D’Andrea, an-other Republican, who also has announced his candidacy for the First District seat held by Marion Berry, D-Gillett, had been turned down for a donation.

The committee actually gave Stumbaugh $2,000 in October, but he gave half of the money back after the committee learned that $1,000 was all the law allowed.

Vince Scarlata, second vice chairman of the committee, pre-sided over Monday’s meeting and announced a decision by chairman Chuck Graham to send a letter requesting the return of the other half of the money after a woman asked about the status of the donation.
Scarlata had earlier cautioned members to be aware that media were present, telling them not to say anything they didn’t want in the newspaper.

The committee violated its bylaws and the bylaws of the state committee by donating to Stum-baugh’s campaign before the May primary, when voters would choose the person they want to run, Scarlata said in response to the woman’s question and to the insistence from the mayor and others that a discussion of the matter should take place.

Since the committee had no right to violate its own bylaws by giving him the money, it would also be incorrect to vote on whether Stumbaugh should keep the money, Scarlata insisted. He could not even allow a motion to bring it to a vote, Scarlata said.

Showing favoritism to one candidate over another is a violation of the committee bylaws he said and refused to make a distinction, as some committee members did, between giving a donation and showing support.

“If contributing money doesn’t show support, I don’t know what does,” Scarlata said.
Larry Clark, a member of the Lonoke County Election Commis-sion, implied in his remarks that it went without saying that the committee supported Stumbaugh for Congress.

“Let’s look at Stubby Stum-baugh and what he’s done for this committee,” Clark said. “And we’re not going to support him? Come on.”
Donating to D’Andrea’s campaign to negate the appearance of favoritism also was not an option, Scarlata said.
“Neither Chuck nor myself believes two wrongs make a right,” he said.

Neither could the committee override the chairman’s decision to ask Stumbaugh to return the money. All the committee can do is call a meeting and vote to remove the chairman, he said.

Scarlata said the decision to give the money back is Stum-baugh’s to make. All the chairman can do is send a letter asking for it.
“You can save the money on sending that letter because I’m not giving it back unless this committee votes for it,” Stumbaugh said.