Friday, May 31, 2013

Arkansas GOP Response to Pryor’s First Ad

Little Rock. Ark. – The Republican Party of Arkansas is hitting back at Senator Mark Pryor one day after he released his first campaign ad of the 2014 election cycle.

The ad depicts Pryor attempting to defend his vote on the Manchin-Toomey proposal he cast in April. Pryor says in the ad that “no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do.” But Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb pointed out that Pryor has stood firmly in the past with gun control advocates:
“Mark Pryor was doing the bidding of New York and DC when he voted for the so-called “assault weapons” ban in 2004,” said Webb. “But now that he needs the votes of Arkansans to go back to Washington, he changes his tune dramatically. That’s an election-year makeover that most voters will see right through.”Earlier this year, the Republican Party of Arkansas released a web video entitled “Mark Pryor: Liberal When No One’s Looking” that highlights Pryor’s past stances in favor of gun control measures.

Tags: Arkansas GOP, RPA, Mark Prior, ad

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Richard Womack: No Pie for Me!

You know that "gut feeling" you had that "corruption" was swirling around the last legislative session in Little Rock; well .... At least one local hospital celebrated after the passage of Arkansas Obamacare. Odd since the sword eventually cuts both ways and they and others in the medical field may not be celebrating in the future. Nic Horton broke the following story which justifies your "gut feeling."

money_suitcase by Nic Horton, The Arkansas Project: There’s been a lot of gossip swirling around the vote to expand Medicaid in Arkansas. For example, how did proponents of expansion pick up 8 votes from Monday (when the bill first failed) to Tuesday when it passed? There’s been a lot of talk about bribery or extortion — Rep. Nate Bell even went to the House floor and spoke of “threats” that had been leveled against House members. Rep. Bruce Westerman, in a fiery speech, asked members if their votes were worth “30 pieces of silver?” Leaders in the legislature then took to the airwaves in order to deny the existence of threats or bribes. So what’s the truth of the matter? All of these legislators cannot be correct.

One rumor that has been swirling for a few weeks involves Rep. Richard Womack and a supposed payoff that was offered to him in exchange for a vote for the “private” option Medicaid expansion. I spoke to Rep. Womack two weeks ago and asked him about it: at that time, he was not prepared to speak about this issue on the record. However, today, after the Arkansas Times floated the story, I contacted Womack again and suggested it was time to make a public statement. Here’s what he told me:
A lobbyist asked me if I would consider changing my vote [on the private option] for $20,000-$30,000 in my campaign account, as soon as they could put it in there legally, and two elections unopposed.
Womack said he did not know the name of the lobbyist and he had had no contact with them previous to this conversation. Womack said he told the lobbyist that he couldn’t stop someone from running against him, but the lobbyist told him “we can see that it’s not a good opponent and that he’s not well funded.” The freshman legislator from Arkadelphia said this put him solidly against the “private” option:
That’s what solidified me as a no. I wanted to get on board with that private option. I had questions that they would not answer. The math seemed incredibly fuzzy, but I was making an effort to gather all the information and do what was best. But when that happened, I absolutely was stuck in the sand on ‘no.’ I just thought, if they’re having to do that stuff to get it done then there’s something wrong here.
Womack added that he was unclear if this was “business as usual” at the Capitol, but said he has noticed a trend in who lobbyists target:
I’ve kinda gathered…they try with more of the freshman and see who they can get. I’m not a politician by any means. I’m just a guy that wanted to help out so all this is new to me. I’m learning every day.
I realize it can be embarrassing or humiliating when you’re asked to participate in a crime. An attempt to ignore criminal solicitation, and get on with your own life, is understandable; it’s my guess that this explains Womack’s hesitance to come forward with this story. But I hope that he has already reported, or is going to report, this crime to the authorities.

Tags: Richard Womack, bribes, obmacare votes, Little Rock, Arkansas, Arkansas Project

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Arkansans Oppose Mark Pryor In New TV Ad

"Better" - TV:30 - Watch Here

DALE CUSTER (Little Rock): “These politicians in Washington…they just don’t get it.”

NIC HORTON (Searcy): “Mark Pryor just really doesn’t get it.”

JANET CROW (Conway): “Pryor votes like a liberal.”

DR. EARL PEEPLES (Little Rock): “He is a liberal.”

NIC HORTON (Searcy): “He voted for the bailout, voted for the stimulus.”

VALERIE EMMONS (Little Rock): “He voted for ObamaCare.”

MARILYN ANGLIN (N. Little Rock): “We don’t want ObamaCare.”

DR. DAVID GILLIAM (Little Rock): “He voted with Obama 95% of the time.”

DAVID CROW (Conway): “95%”

CATHERINE JONES (N. Little Rock): “More spending, more debt.”

DALE CUSTER (Little Rock): “Senator Pryor’s changed somehow when he went to Washington.”

BILL SHROYER (N. Little Rock): “I’ll take Arkansas values over Washington values, any day.”

NIC HORTON (Searcy): “Mark Pryor left us.”

CATHERINE JONES (N. Little Rock): “Pryor left us.”

GLENN GALLAS (Hot Springs): “Arkansas deserves better.”

ANNOUNCER: “Senate Conservatives Action is responsible for the content of this message.”

This is SCA's first major independent expenditure that expressly calls for the defeat of Mark Pryor. SCA sponsored two radio ads ("95 Percent" and "Liberal") earlier this year, which informed voters of Pryor's liberal record on fiscal and social issues.

Tags: Mark Pryor, Arkansas, TV ad, opppose Mark Pryor, better

Monday, May 27, 2013

Griffin: ‘Remember and Honor Those Who Have Given Their Lives for Our Freedom’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement in honor of Memorial Day:
“On this Memorial Day, take time to remember and honor those who have given their lives for our freedom in defense of this Nation. And in so doing we must always keep our solemn commitment to care for the loved ones they left behind.”

Tags: Memorial Day, Tim Griffin

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Day of Remembrance

Members of the 753rd Ordinance Company
out of Camp Dawson, WV in Kuwait
by U.S.  Rick Crawford (AR-01): Memorial Day is a special time of reflection, as I’m sure it is for millions of families across America. I had the privilege of growing up in a military family. My dad spent his entire military career in the Air Force where he served one tour in Vietnam amongst other assignments that took our family to all corners of the United States as well as overseas. While my dad’s service in the Air Force makes me proud of what he did for our country, I believe it was the smaller lessons he taught me that are reflective of what Memorial Day should represent in the minds of every American family.

As was the custom we lived in on-base housing provided by the Air Force when my dad was on assignment. It was common for each home to house countless families every few years as service members rotated in and out of bases. While moving out of one house we had been living in, I distinctly remember my dad making the point that we had to leave the house in better condition than when we first moved in. I initially did not understand what he meant.

But as we cleaned the house before we departed for my dad’s next assignment I came to fully appreciate his lesson. Though we had lived there only temporarily, my dad wanted me to understand the importance of taking pride in and responsibility for what we had been given. This was also his approach in his service to our nation.

Military life is every bit as challenging for a service member’s spouse and family, something I experienced myself firsthand. I am eternally grateful for the service provided by both my father and my mother while he was in the Air Force. Without my mother’s help in raising my brothers and me, I would not be where I am today. I believe their example of leaving what we have been given in better condition than how we found it is something we should all reflect on this Memorial Day. Our nation is a gift from God, and we should all strive to leave it in better condition in every way possible than how we found it. For Memorial Day, please thank a service member for their work and for doing all they can to make our nation a better place. And on this Memorial Day a special thanks to those families who lost a loved one in service to our country. This day is for them.

Tags: Memorial Day, Day of Remembrance, Rep. Rick Crawford

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pryor Responds Concerns About President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Budget Proposal

The following is by U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) and is in response to my comments to him regarding the President's budget and my concerns over the impact of sequestration and the budgets impact on the military, veterans and their families.  As with previous responses from Senators and Representatives, the response is published without editorial comment.
-------------------------
May 24, 2013
Dear Dr. Smith,
 
Thank you for contacting me regarding the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget proposal. I appreciate hearing from you. 
 
The President released his FY 2014 budget proposal on April 10, 2013. I continue to examine this budget proposal, but I am concerned that this budget fails to strike the right balance between cutting our spending and setting up a path for future job creation and economic growth. 
 
The President's budget proposal is simply the Administration's plan for allocating funds for a particular fiscal year; it is not a law or a binding document. The Constitutional responsibility for allocating money lies with the Congress, not with the Administration. I will use my seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to find a balanced approach that will benefit our economy, seniors, and middle class families.
 
Please know that I understand your concerns regarding proposed changes in military pay and healthcare. I am committed to a strong national defense, which requires the very best in military training, equipment, and technology to ensure our service men and women have the resources they need to accomplish their missions. I am also committed to honoring the sacrifices that our service members, veterans, and their families have made in order to protect our country. I will be sure to keep your specific comments in mind as I continue to do my part to ensure that they have resources, healthcare and benefits they deserve. 
 
Again, thank you for contacting me. I value your input. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my office regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.
 
Sincerely,

Mark Pryor
United States Senate


Tags: Mark Pryor, US Senator, President's budget, military, veterans, families, sequestration,

Crawford Grills EPA For Targeting Farmers

Congressman Rick Crawford questions the EPA over burdensome spill regulations and releasing the private information of farmers to environmental activists groups during a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing on May 22, 2013. Witnesses for the EPA were Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, Ms. Nancy Stoner, and Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Mr. Mathy Stanislaus.

Tags: Representative, Rick Crawford, EPA, targeting farmers, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boozman Calls for Accountability for IRS Abuses

ARRA News Service -- WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) took to the Senate floor this morning to express frustration over the inexcusable targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and called on the administration to work with Congress to hold those responsible for the abuses accountable.

“This scandal gives the already-maligned IRS a black eye. It reinforces people’s worst fears about Washington—that those in power will use any means necessary to maintain that power,” Boozman said in his speech.

Boozman’s speech came as the Oversight and Government Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives began a hearing where Lois Lerner, the IRS official who first admitted to these abuses, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, continuing to hinder Congress’s investigation into the scandal.

The Internal Revenue Service admitted that it unfairly targeted conservative
groups. Biased treatment based on political beliefs will not be tolerated. There are
a lot of questions that need to be answered by top officials at the agency and there
will be consequences for those who carried out these unjust actions. Senator Boozman delivered this speech on the Senate floor about this scandal and how the agency must be accountable.

“Somebody has to be accountable. This is not a time for excuses. It is a time for leadership,” Boozman said.

Tags: U.S. Senator, John Boozman, calls for accountability, IRS abuses, Arkansas

Griffin: Keystone XL Project ‘Will Create Jobs and Bring Us Closer to All-American Energy Independence’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after House passage of the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3):According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Keystone XL would have the capacity to move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day. This is equivalent to approximately half of what the United States imports from the Middle East. In January 2011, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration developed 57 project-specific special conditions for design, construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, these conditions would give the Keystone XL pipeline “a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline.” It is estimated that the Keystone XL pipeline will create 20,000 direct jobs from the pipeline’s construction.H.R. 3 would approve the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction by waiving the Presidential permit requirement.  The pipeline’s route would follow the revised route evaluated in the Final Evaluation Report issued by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and approved by Nebraska’s governor in January 2013.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Keystone XL would have the capacity to move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day.  This is equivalent to approximately half of what the United States imports from the Middle East.  In January 2011, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration developed 57 project-specific special conditions for design, construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline.  According to the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, these conditions would give the Keystone XL pipeline “a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline.”  It is estimated that the Keystone XL pipeline will create 20,000 direct jobs from the pipeline’s construction.

H.R. 3 has broad support from pro-job and labor organizations, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independent Business, the American Energy Alliance, the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, among others.

Tags: U.S. Representative, Tim Giffin, Arkansas, Keystone XL pipeline, jobs, energy independence, H.R. 3

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ICYMI: Rothenberg Moves AR Senate Race from “Tilt Democrat” to “Toss-Up”

Little Rock. Ark. – After being named by Roll Call and National Journal as the most vulnerable Senate incumbent seeking re-election in 2014, the Rothenberg Political Report has moved the Arkansas 2014 Senate race from the “Tilt Democrat” category to “Toss-Up” status. The report cites the ongoing Democratic scandals in Washington (Benghazi, IRS, etc.) and renewed Republican enthusiasm heading into a crucial election year. Below is the entire posting, which can be viewed online HERE.

Senate Ratings Changes: The Political Environment Turns on Democrats

By Stuart Rothenberg

While national polls haven’t shown a shift in the public’s opinion of President Barack Obama’s performance, recent controversies have, in my view, significantly changed the political landscape.

And changes in the landscape have led the Rothenberg Political Report to change its Senate ratings.

For the past few years, the public’s focus has been on Republicans’ opposition to the president’s agenda, their desire to shrink (even cripple) government and their conservatism. But the IRS scandal, along with controversies involving the attack in Benghazi and the Justice Department’s collecting of journalists’ telephone records, has change the political narrative.

While the Oklahoma tornado tragedy will dominate media coverage for the next few days, the new political narrative that will re-emerge when journalists return to politics involves questions about what the administration knew, said and did.

The new focus on the Obama administration puts it on the defensive and should boost enthusiasm on the political right throughout this year.

While we don’t know how long the focus will stay on the administration — or whether Republicans will stumble over the investigations or matters of public policy — between now and the November midterms, it is undeniable that recent events have altered, at least for now, the trajectory of the 2014 elections.

Given the different natures of midterm electorates, the new political narrative increases the risk for Democratic candidates in red states, where Democrats must win independent and, in many cases, Republican voters to be successful.

As Nathan Gonzales wrote this week, Republicans can get a Senate majority in next year’s elections by winning races in states Mitt Romney carried. Because that now seems more difficult than it did just a month ago, we are moving a number of Senate contests to the GOP.

Our moves are as follows:
  • West Virginia (Open seat; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, is retiring): From Tossup/Tilt Republican to Lean Republican.
  • South Dakota (Open seat; Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat, is retiring): From Tossup/Tilt Republican to Lean Republican.
  • Arkansas (Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat): From Tossup/Tilt Democrat to Pure Tossup.
  • Louisiana (Sen. Mary L. Landreiu, a Democrat): From Tossup/Tilt Democrat to Pure Tossup.
  • Alaska (Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat): From Lean Democrat to Tossup/Tilt Democrat.
  • North Carolina (Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat): From Lean Democrat to Tossup/Tilt Democrat. 

Tags: Rothenberg, AR Senate Race, Senate Ratings Changes, Political Environment, Turns on Democrats

Martha Shoffner Resigns: Arkansas Treasurer Steps Down Amid Extortion Charges

Martha Shoffner
Resigns as Arkansas
State Treasurer
by Andrew DeMillo, Huffington Post: LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas' state treasurer resigned Tuesday after being accused of accepting at least $36,000 cash in exchange for steering business to an investment broker, bowing to bipartisan calls to step down or face removal from office.

Democrat Martha Shoffner held the office since 2007 and was re-elected in 2010. She was barred by term limits from seeking re-election next year.

"I am proud to have been elected by and to have served the people of the state of Arkansas and regret that I can no longer perform the duties and responsibilities owed to the public," Shoffner wrote in a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe.

Her resignation was effective 5 p.m. Tuesday. A spokesman for Beebe said the governor received Shoffner's letter late Tuesday afternoon but had not spoken directly to her.

After her arrest in an FBI sting operation Saturday, Shoffner was under pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to step down.

She spent the weekend in jail, appeared in court Monday and was released on her own recognizance. She didn't enter a plea, but her attorney, Chuck Banks, said she would plead not guilty at the appropriate time. A next court date was not set.

A federal grand jury will decide whether to indict. Shoffner, 68, is charged with attempt and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right under the Hobbs Act, a federal law often used to prosecute public officials for accepting bribes.

The charges carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

"It would be very hard, in my opinion, for that office to properly function under her continued leadership," Beebe, a Democrat who was among those calling for Shoffner to resign, said Monday.

. . .

Federal prosecutors allege Shoffner accepted $12,000 a year from a broker who would sometimes deliver cash in a pie box, with the pie included. They said the broker is cooperating with investigators.

An FBI affidavit filed in federal court alleges that a bond broker – unidentified in court documents – would roll up cash in $6,000 increments and have it delivered to Shoffner's office every six months. At least two of the payments were delivered in a pie box with a pie. The broker "recognized his/her bond business with the state grew because of the payments," the affidavit said.

The payments were made after Shoffner asked the broker for $1,000 a month to pay her rent in Little Rock, according to the affidavit. The document said the broker was granted immunity in exchange for cooperating.

Shoffner had faced inquiries about the way her office handled state investments. Last year, legislative auditors questioned her selling of bonds before they matured, a practice they said cost the state more than $434,000 worth of earnings.

Shoffner was arrested at her Newport home after the broker agreed to record the meeting and bring $6,000 in a pie box, the affidavit said. FBI agents executed a search warrant and found the cash inside a cigarette package in Shoffner's kitchen. Shoffner admitted she accepted the payments from the broker, the FBI said in its affidavit. . . .[Read More]

Tags: Martha Shoffner, Resigns, Arkansas Treasurer, FBI, extotion, charges

What's Next? Why is Mark Pryor So Quiet About the IRS Scandal?

Washington, D.C. – Last week, news broke that not only were Senate Democrats guilty of pressuring the IRS to target conservative groups, but the IRS Employees Union gave 93 cents of every dollar donated to Democratic candidates. Washington is entrenched in scandal that reveals the close relationship between Democrats and the IRS, yet after an initial statement, Senator Mark Pryor  – who has received $11,000 from the IRS union – has been quiet.

“Senate Democrats - who pressured the IRS to target conservative groups - have an obligation to defend the citizens and organizations that were bullied by their own federal government,” said NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring. “Mark Pryor is a United States Senator, and that requires action not just hollow press releases - but he continues to hide behind them."

As the IRS scandal continues to grow, Mark Pryor must answer the following questions:
  1. Does Senator Mark Pryor think an independent special counsel is needed to investigate the IRS efforts?
  2. Why didn’t Mark Pryor speak out when his Senate Democratic friends and colleagues publicly pressured the IRS to target conservative groups?
  3. Will Mark Pryor return the $11,000 in campaign contributions from IRS union?
  4. Does Mark Pryor believe that President Obama should apologize to citizens and groups that were unfairly targeted? 
  5. Does Mark Pryor believe that President Obama and other senior White House staffers were wrong to publicly suggest that conservative groups were breaking the law?

Tags: Mark Pryor, IRS Scandal

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Boozman Bulletin: Staying in Contact | Sequestration | Quick Take On Issues


by Senator John Boozman
: As a Senator, I travel weekly from Arkansas to Washington. As I cast votes on the Senate floor, ask questions in hearings or visit with Arkansans in meetings, my concern is always how the actions of Congress will impact you. In order to understand your concerns, it’s important for me to stay in touch. This is particularly challenging when we are in session in Washington.

Fortunately, technology is making it easier. I recently hosted an internet forum called Crowdhall to get your feedback and have an open dialogue with residents as to what questions are on the minds of Arkansans. We had a great response and I appreciate the time you took to participate. Click here to read the questions that were asked and my responses to topics such as immigration, tax reform and spending.

An open line of communication with my constituents is the best way to fulfill my commitment to the people of Arkansas. I think one of the best tools we can use to help keep our constituents informed is the ability to interact live in a tele-town hall format. We’ve hosted several tele-townhalls already this year. I look forward to more in the coming months and hope to have you join our call.

I’m always interested in your feedback. You may remember in our last newsletter I asked you questions about sequestration. I want to share with you the results of the survey.
1) The sequester cuts are starting to take effect. Do you believe these cuts will help put the U.S. on a more financially sound footing?
Yes, it needs to be done 21%Not ideal, but something had to be done 40%No, I do not think this is a good way to address our spending problem 36%Unsure 3%
2) Which alternatives to sequestration do you support?
Targeted spending cuts 92%Tax increases 6%I support sequestration 1%Unsure 1%
3) What proposals do you support to cut spending?
A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution 57%Targeted cuts 33%Sequestration 2%Raise taxes instead 7%Unsure 1%
4) The debt limit expires this summer. Should Congress enact additional cuts or entitlement reforms in order to raise the ceiling?
Yes 37%No 32%Unsure 31%


Quick Takes:


Tags: Senator, John Boozman, bulletin,

Boozman, Donnelly Push for Creation of Gulf War Memorial


Introduce bill to honor servicemembers who fought in Operations Desert Shield & Desert Storm

WASHINGTON – Veterans of the first Gulf War deserve a national memorial to honor their service and sacrifice during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm say U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who have joined together to introduce legislation that would create one in Washington, DC.

“There is no national memorial dedicated to the valor and sacrifices made by those members of our Armed Forces who honorably fought, and in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice, in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We need to change that. This bill will clear the way for a memorial that will show a grateful nation’s respect and appreciation for those who fought to defend freedom in the Gulf War,” said Boozman.

Donnelly said, “Over 60,000 Hoosiers served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, so I am proud to join my friend, Senator Boozman, in introducing bipartisan legislation that would authorize a national memorial to demonstrate our appreciation for their bravery and sacrifice. We owe all men and women who serve our nation a debt of gratitude, and those who serve in war should have their exceptional efforts recognized. The men and women who fought in the first Gulf War, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, deserve to have their service memorialized.”

Boozman and Donnelly’s bill, the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act, would authorize establishment of a National Desert Shield and Desert Storm War Memorial on federal lands within the District of Columbia.

No federal funds will be spent to build this memorial. All funds will be raised privately by the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.

The association’s President Scott C. Stump applauded the bill’s introduction saying, "This bill is a significant step in commemorating the over 500,000 men and women who answered the call to serve during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and in remembering the nearly 400 service members who made the ultimate sacrifice almost 23 years ago. The bill will ensure that Operations Desert Shield & Desert Storm, along with its veterans, will claim a proper and enduring place in U.S. and world history."

A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representative by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN). 

Tags: Gulf War, National Desert Shield, Desert Storm, War Memorial, Dist of Columbia, Senator, John Boozman, Joe Donnelly, U.S. House, Rep. Phil Roe

Senate Majority Leader Williams: Shoffner Must Resign or Face Removal

Cabot, Ark. – Senate Majority Leader Eddie Joe Williams (R-29) issued the following statement Tuesday morning calling for the resignation or removal of State Treasurer Martha Shoffner.

“When one of our public officials violates the public trust, it is a sad day for all Arkansans,” said Williams. “Nevertheless, there must be consequences for Treasurer Shoffner’s misconduct and reckless behavior. Therefore, I am joining my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in asking for her resignation. If she continues to refuse to resign, it is my opinion that she should be removed from office since she has proven herself unfit to continue making decisions for the taxpayers of this state. I am confident that the Arkansas Senate would support her removal from office.”

Senate Majority Leader Eddie Joe Williams joins a growing chorus of elected officials calling for Treasurer Shoffner to step down, including Governor Mike Beebe, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, and dozens of lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Tags: Arkansas, Treasurer, Martha Shoffner, Resign, Arkansas Senate, Majority Leader, Eddie Joe Williams

Monday, May 20, 2013

Arkansas GOP Statement on State Treasurer Martha Shoffner


Little Rock. Ark. – The Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb has released the following statement regarding embattled State Treasurer Martha Shoffner:
“Today, I am calling on Treasurer Martha Shoffner to resign her office as Treasurer of the State of Arkansas. While our justice system provides for her presumed innocence until proven guilty, the wrongful acts that are alleged are very serious in nature and are directly related to her official duties as State Treasurer. The incompetence that has been uncovered, the criminal charges that are pending, and the distraction from her office that due process will involve make her unfit to continue in her service as State Treasurer. For these reasons, she should resign immediately.”

Tags: Arkansas, Treasurer, Martha Shoffner, Resign, RPA Statement, Republican Party of Arkansas, Doyle Webb

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Focus on Economic Certainty in Washington

This week we marked up and passed legislation that would approve the new
northern route for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
by Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-01) This week in Washington the House of Representatives passed several pieces of legislation that will provide greater economic certainty to every American family. In this tough economic climate American families have to watch how every dime of their paycheck is being spent. With our national debt nearing $17 trillion, we have to ensure that American families can look to lawmakers with some certainty that we are taking to heart the difficult circumstances that so many still face as we slowly come out of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

A critical piece of legislation came this week in a reform-oriented five-year Farm Bill that passed the House Agriculture Committee this week on a bipartisan vote of 36-10. No other piece of legislation serves as a better source of stability to the First District agriculture economy than the Farm Bill. It enables producers to plan their crop, gives bankers the confidence they need to make farm loans, and makes significant investments in rural communities. What’s more, the House Farm Bill cuts government spending by more than $40 billion. These savings will reduce the deficit, an important step towards fixing our debt crisis, which continues to be a drag on the economy.

Also this week I was happy to vote in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline when the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. This legislation will forgo the need for the long-delayed Presidential Permit and will finally allow for construction to begin completing the Keystone pipeline. Being able to depend on a steady supply of energy at a predictable price is critical for families and businesses across Arkansas, and having the Keystone XL pipeline completed and carrying North American oil to American refineries will help on both accounts. I look forward to voting in support of the pipeline again when H.R. 3 comes to the floor of the House of Representatives for full consideration, and hopefully passage.

Lastly, I voted this week to fully repeal Obamacare. Obamacare stifles economic certainty for families because it demands employers with 50 or more employees to offer state-mandated health insurance or pay a crippling penalty. Many employers are being forced to reduce employees from full-time to part-time, or let them go outright to avoid this new government mandate. The cost of ObamaCare should concern every American family, it is the creation of a new entitlement program that will cost every American, and generations of Americans to come, upwards of $1.3 trillion dollars. We simply cannot afford this massive new entitlement program in the middle of a debt crisis and I will fight to do all I can to at the very least delay ObamaCare’s implementation. Adding $1.3 trillion in debt to American families is the height of irresponsibility and we must act to prevent that from happening in every way possible.

Tags: Rick Crawford, US Congressman, Arkansas, 1st District, focus on Economics

RPA Newsletter, May 17, 2013

David Ray, RPA Communications Director: The nation was captivated this week by the Obama administration’s seemingly endless scandal-palooza. The trifecta of the Benghazi cover-up, the political thuggery of the IRS, and the Department of Justice’s seizure of phone records at the Associated Press have created quite the firestorm in Washington and threatened to derail Obama’s second term in office.

Legislative Recap
Today was the official adjournment of the regular session of the 89 th General Assembly, and we’re releasing our recap of the legislative session. This session was truly historic; Republicans had a majority of both the House and Senate for the first time in 138 years.

On numerous issues, including education, taxes, government reform, life, and protecting our Constitution, Republicans made significant progress that will continue in the years ahead. We hope you’ll go to our website and download the report (PDF format) and share it with your friends and neighbors).

The IRS Scandal – Arkansas Republicans Keeping Washington Accountable
Arkansans recognize that using the power of the IRS and the tax code to intimidate and attack political opponents represents an enormous breach of the public trust. That’s why Arkansas Republicans are holding Washington’s feet to the fire. Congressman Tom Cotton was on FOX16 News and Congressman Tim Griffin was on Fox Business talking about this same topic. Senator John Boozman also expressed that we should have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.

Arkansas House Delegation Votes to Repeal Obamacare
Given the recent scandal uncovered at the IRS, it won’t make any American sleep better knowing that the IRS is scheduled to serve as the chief enforcement arm for Obamacare. That’s one reason why all four Arkansas Congressmen stood up to repeal Obamacare this week. You can read statements from Congressmen Steve Womack and Tim Griffin about their votes, as well as watch this speech on the House floor from Congressman Tom Cotton.
Pryor’s IRS Cash
While Arkansas Republicans are working to hold the IRS accountable, Senate Democrats spent much of 2010 and 2012 urging the IRS to tighten the screws on conservative tax-exempt groups. They also dismissed Republicans who warned in 2010 that this type of action could occur.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that Senator Mark Pryor has taken $11,000 in campaign contributions from the IRS employee union. How in the world can Arkansans expect Pryor to hold the IRS accountable when they’re helping bankroll his campaign? That’s why we’re calling on him to return those contributions.

In the News
Congressman Rick Crawford and Senator John Boozman are hard at work on the farm bill to make sure Arkansas farmers get square deal.

Current Auditor and longtime Democratic officeholder Charlie Daniels is retiring, making the office of the auditor a prime pick-up opportunity for Republicans in 2014.

Tags: RPA Newsletter, May 17, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Griffin: IRS ‘Targeting’ Underscores the Need for Tax Reform

Says, ‘our most expansive federal powers have been given to our most intrusive agency'
(click here to view video of today’s hearing)
WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement after today’s hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups:

“Today’s hearing demonstrates how our most expansive federal powers have been given to our most intrusive agency. A constituent texted me last night, relaying how the IRS has harassed his family with inappropriate questions. The Treasury Department’s audit report that was published this week is just the tip of the iceberg, but already, we know that several Democratic senators demanded the IRS target a number of conservative groups. Further, the IRS division commissioner who oversaw this outrage received bonuses and a promotion. Where is the accountability? And unfortunately, she’s now leading the IRS’s effort to implement ObamaCare. All of this underscores why we need a simpler, flatter, and fairer tax code that protects taxpayers and reduces the reach of the IRS.”

Tags: Tim Griffin, House Ways and Means Committee, hearing, IRS scandalInsert tags

Arkansas GOP Calls on Mark Pryor to Return Campaign Contributions from the IRS

Little Rock. Ark. – The Republican Party of Arkansas is calling on Senator Mark Pryor to return the $11,000 in contributions he has taken from the IRS Employee Union (National Treasury Employees Union) in the wake of the current IRS scandal.

Republican Party spokesman David Ray said “How in the world can Arkansans expect Mark Pryor to hold the IRS accountable for their shocking and inappropriate behavior when they’re helping bankroll his campaign? We are calling on him to return those contributions and hold this administration accountable.

According to OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, Pryor has accepted $11,000 from the IRS Employee Union. That information can be accessed at www.opensecrets.org, or by clicking this link and utilizing the search tools.

Washington has been engulfed this week with news that the IRS has inappropriately targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny. Last Friday, the IRS apologized for their actions, but Congress currently seeking more answers through Congressional hearings and testimony.

Tags: Arkansas GOP, Sen. Mark Pryor, return contributions, from IRS

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Griffin: ObamaCare Means ‘Larger Premiums, Lower Wages and Lost Coverage’ for Millions of Americans

Votes for full repeal of President Obama’s ‘top-down health care takeover’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement after House passage of the Full Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (H.R. 45):

“Even senior Democrats now admit that ObamaCare is a ‘ huge train wreck,’ and that revelation came before we found out about how the IRS – a key agency responsible for implementing the President’s health care law – targeted hardworking Americans because of their political views. And with a major implementation deadline less than 140 days away, it’s no wonder that a majority of Americans fear the larger premiums, lower wages, and lost coverage that awaits them because of President Obama’s top-down health care takeover. We in the House recognize that America is an exceptional nation that can overcome the flaws of our current health care system with smart and innovative solutions – and the first step is to repeal this big, clumsy, one-size-fits-all economic albatross.”

H.R. 45 represents the third full-repeal measure the House has passed since President Obama signed ObamaCare into law on March 23, 2010. It is also the 37th time the House has voted to repeal all or part of ObamaCare.

Background on the Implications of ObamaCare
Individuals and Families Will Pay More for Health Care
  • In March, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that premiums will increase for Americans.
  • The American Society of Actuaries estimates a 32 percent increase in the cost of covering people in the individual market as a result of ObamaCare.
  • The New York Times recently reported some states are seeing double-digit increases in health insurance premiums.
  • According to a recent report/survey, 70 percent of small businesses cite ObamaCare as a major obstacle to job creation.
  • The USA Today and the Wall Street Journal have reported that many businesses plan to bring on more part-time workers next year, trim the hours of full-time employees or curtail hiring because of the new health care law.
  • The Federal Reserve recently warned, “Employers in several [Federal Reserve] Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”

You Can’t Keep the Health Plan You Have and Like
  • Based on two separate analyses provided by CBO and Deloitte, as many as 20 million to 65 million Americans might lose their employer-sponsored health insurance as a result of the Democrats’ health care law.
  • Secretary Sebelius has admitted up to 24 million Americans will lose the coverage they currently have and like.
  • Approximately 9 in 10 seniors with retiree benefits will lose their retiree prescription drug coverage through their employer under ObamaCare.

Tags: Tim Griffin, Obamacare, Larger Premiums, lower wages,

Senator Pryor Has Short Memory of His Death Tax Pledge

Little Rock. Ark. – This morning, Senator Mark Pryor continued his extreme makeover by misleading Arkansans about his record of supporting the death tax, despite his 2006 pledge to “support the permanent repeal of an estate tax.”

During a Twitter town hall on agricultural issues, Pryor fielded a question from the Republican Party of Arkansas (@ARGOP) that read:
“@SenMarkPryor, why did you break your promise to Arkansas farmers & vote to protect the death tax? #AskPryor”

Pryor responded by claiming:
“@ARGOP I didn't break my promise. consistent on estate tax. I have been part of lowering estate tax and reducing burden on farms and biz.”

The problem with that, of course, is that Pryor did break his promise to Arkansans. As recently as 2006, his U.S. Senate website contained a page entitled “Economic Growth” that read: “I support the permanent repeal of an estate tax that harms small businesses and family farms.” A copy of that webpage can be viewed HERE

Pryor’s votes have consistently failed to match his rhetoric on the issue of the death tax. He has voted on numerous occasions to block permanent repeal and has also voted against efforts to reduce the death tax:
  • In 2006, Pryor voted against permanent repeal of the death tax, even though fellow Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln voted in favor of repeal.
  • In 2013, Pryor voted again against permanent repeal of the death tax, even though Senator John Boozman supported permanent repeal.
  • In 2006, Pryor also voted against a measure to reduce the number of Americans affected by the death tax, even though fellow Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln voted for it.
  • In 2008, Pryor voted against a measure to reduce the death tax to 35%, despite his pledge to support permanent repeal.
  • Before the town hall concluded, Pryor tweeted once more to the Republican Party of Arkansas, promising to provide documentation that he has lived up to his “permanent repeal” pledge:
    “.@ARGOP I didn't. I'm happy to send you the release that points that out. Thanks.”

    The Republican Party of Arkansas responded to Pryor’s offer by supplying him with an email address to send the information he claims to have that will support his declaration that he has not changed his position. As of this press release, no correspondence has been received.

    Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb criticized Pryor for his broken promise: “Given that Mark Pryor has already flip-flopped on gun control and abortion during this campaign, it’s not surprising that he’s also flipped on the death tax,” said Webb. “It is disappointing, however, that Pryor continues to support higher taxes – even taxes that Blanche Lincoln voted against.”

    Tags: Arkansas, RPA, Senator mark Pryor, Short memory, Death Tax Pledge

IRS Targeted The Tea Party & Conservatives Because Mark Pryor's Senate Pressured Them To

Mark Pryor Can't Have It Both Ways
by NRSCA few years ago Senate Democrats began pressuring the IRS to target many of the conservative groups that the embattled agency now stands accused of doing. In fact, the Senate Democrat majority even threatened to take legislative action against the agency if it failed to target the groups. Perhaps that's why so many Democratic Senators are today feigning outrage.
This story has been well known for YEARS. Why did Mark Pryor keep quiet?
Surely Democrat Mark Pryor reads the New York Times, which reported back in 2010: “With growing scrutiny of the role of tax-exempt groups in political campaigns, Congressional Republicans are pushing back against Democrats by warning about the possible misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to audit conservative groups….And the Republicans are also upset about an I.R.S. review requested by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Finance Committee, into the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Such a review threatens to "chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights," wrote two Republican senators, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona, in a letter sent to the I.R.S. ... Democrats dismissed the Republicans' complaints as groundless.”
The pressure grew so immense that the New York Times reported on it. “The Internal Revenue Service is caught in an election-year struggle between Democratic lawmakers pressing for a crackdown on nonprofit political groups and conservative organizations accusing the tax agency of conducting a politically charged witch hunt.”
Why did the IRS target conservative groups? According to the New York Times, because Senate Democrats directed and pressured them to.
Silence is acceptance. Mark Pryor's deafening silence when the scandal first began makes him just as guilty of wrongdoing as the Senate Democrats who directly pressured the IRS to target these conservative groups.

Tags: Mark Pryor, AR-D, US Senator, IRS, targeting Tea party, conservatives,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Local Officials Show Public Support For Yang

Little Rock, AR – The Yang for Auditor campaign announced support from ten officials of local government and policy organizations.

The following public figures have expressed their confidence in Ken Yang as the next State Auditor:
  1. Charlene Fite; State Representative District 80; Van Buren, AR
  2. Nicholas Stehle; Board Member of Arkansas Carry; Benton, AR
  3. Karilyn Brown; Justice of the Peace Pulaski County; Sherwood, AR
  4. Josh Mesker; Justice of the Peace Saline County; Shannon Hills, AR
  5. Jack McNally; Lonoke County Assessor
  6. Larry Clarke; Lonoke County Clerk
  7. Joy Ballard; Saline County Collector
  8. Larry Davis; Saline County Treasurer
  9. Bruce Pennington; Saline County Sheriff
  10. Kerry Murphy; City of Benton Councilman
Three-term Saline County Sheriff, Bruce Pennington said: “I support Ken Yang for the office of State Auditor. Ken is a conservative who will manage the money of the Auditor’s office in a way that all the citizens of the State of Arkansas will be proud of.”

Freshman State Representative Fite expressed her admiration for Yang’s commitment to the State of Arkansas: Over the past few years, my admiration and appreciation for Ken Yang have continued to grow as I've gotten to know him and hear more of his story. Ken was a valuable help to me during my first term as a state representative as we worked together on a bill to make our state a safer place for Arkansas' youth. I found Ken very approachable and always ready to lend a helping hand. Ken's work ethic, intelligence, and personal beliefs combine to make him an excellent choice as a public servant.”

Arkansas Carry board member Nicholas Stehle noted Yang’s character: "My friend Ken Yang is an exciting and energetic conservative leader. His work ethic and dedication to Arkansas speak to his character and comprehension of the issues we face. I'm happy to support his campaign for State Auditor, and wholeheartedly endorse him."

Fellow Saline County resident and the 2nd District Justice of the Peace, Josh Mesker, said of Yang: “Ken Yang is a trusted friend and was an early supporter of my bid to represent the good people of District Two. His character, worth ethic, and enthusiasm for public service alone qualify him to run for office. However, Ken's years of experience assisting in the operation of his family's successful business uniquely equips him to be our next State Auditor. I'm proud to endorse him."

“I’m honored to have the support of leaders on the ground in Arkansas,” said Yang. “These officials have a handle on the daily issues, struggles, triumphs, ups, and downs of the average Arkansan, so their word means a lot to me. If elected as State Auditor, I will diligently serve the people of Arkansas in a very hands-on and accessible manner just as these officials do. I have no interest in going to Little Rock and losing focus of the everyday Arkansans whom I will have been elected to serve.”

For more information, please visit: http://votekenyang.com/
Follow Ken Yang on Twitter - @kenyangAR
Join Ken Yang on Facebook - www.facebook.com/VoteKenYang

Tags: Ken Yangm 2014 candidate, Arkansas, Auditor

Senate Supports Boozman Amendments to Water Bill

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Senate today adopted, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a major water resources law that included two amendments offered by U.S. Senator John Boozman.

WRDA contains numerous provisions promoted by Boozman, including language to require project acceleration and efficiency improvements, innovative cost-saving financing options for water projects, improved oversight of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Arkansas, increased coordination between the Corps and non-federal project sponsors and stakeholders, more reliable maintenance of Arkansas ports on the Mississippi River, and improved levels of service at Corps navigation projects.

The Senate approved a Boozman amendment allowing the Corps to participate in the interagency America the Beautiful Pass program. This allows customers an alternative payment option at federal recreation sites where entrance or amenity fees are charged. The Corps will now be able to distribute and sell the passes and retain a portion of the revenue for park improvements. It would also allow the Corps to distribute Military Passes making it easier for our servicemen and women.

“Allowing the Corps to offer passes to customers will encourage continued use of federal recreation sites. The Corps currently honors the pass for fee discounts but isn’t allowed to distribute them like other land management agencies. This provides consistency at federal recreation sites,” Boozman said.

The Senate also approved the Boozman amendment to improve Corps billing statements to help communities, towns and rural water associations anticipate maintenance charges and other costs associated with water supply storage.

“Our communities are responsibly planning for the future to provide safe and reliable sources of water for their citizens. Often times they are faced with surprising cost increases because of unplanned charges. We can prevent and make the bill more predictable by improving cost transparency to water users,” Boozman said.

WRDA improves our nation’s water resources policy to expand opportunity, promote commerce, and reduce flood risks. Boozman is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee which has jurisdiction over this legislation.

Tags: John Boozman, Arkansas, Us Senate, amendment, Water Bill, Water Resources Development Act, WRDA

Senate Democrats Pushed IRS to Act on Political Groups, Threatened Legislative Action

Where was Mark Pryor during all this?
by NRSC: Several of the Democratic Senators that are complaining about the IRS this week were pressuring the IRS to act on many of the same groups as recently as a year ago, even threatening legislative action against the agency. Perhaps that's why so many are today trying to quell the storm by joining in the outrage.

Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer led the charge to call on the IRS to investigate many of these groups for political activity.

As the New York Times reported back in 2010: With growing scrutiny of the role of tax-exempt groups in political campaigns, Congressional Republicans are pushing back against Democrats by warning about the possible misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to audit conservative groups….And the Republicans are also upset about an I.R.S. review requested by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Finance Committee, into the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Such a review threatens to "chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights," wrote two Republican senators, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona, in a letter sent to the I.R.S. on Wednesday. ... Democrats dismissed the Republicans' complaints as groundless.

Now in true “election year conversion” form, Mark Pryor claims he’ll work “to get to the bottom of this so we can fire those responsible and ensure this never happens again.”

Yet just a few years before, when re-election was cycles away, Pryor was silent over concerns regarding potential political motives in the IRS audits.

Where was Mark Pryor then?

Tags: Senate Democrats, IRS, Act on Political Groups, Threatened Legislative Action, Mark Pryor