Waltons Pump More Money Into Benton County Alcohol Effort
Tom and Steuart Walton each contributed $20,000 in August to Keep Dollars in Benton County, the group pushing to allow retail alcohol sales in the county, according to a report submitted Monday to the state Ethics Commission.
“I expect with all the support that we saw with the signature gathering that our focus is just making direct contact with our supporters encouraging them out to vote,” said Marshall Ney, spokesperson for Keep Dollars in Benton County.
Tom and Steuart Walton, who are Sam Walton’s grandsons, have contributed a total of $237,500 each to the group, raising their combined contributions to $475,000, the report states. The report covers the period from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31. The group has raised a total of $525,000 from all sources, including local convenience stores.
Ney said they won’t do media advertising and believe a more direct approach will be more effective.
“We might continue to drive people through social media. I expect we’ll try perhaps at least one direct mail out to supporters,” Ney said.
Benton County voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to allow retail alcohol sales in the county. Ney said the group expects around 80,000 voters and said the group’s work isn’t over.
“It’s always important for voters to turn out. Certainly don’t want to get apathetic to the point that we lose because we haven’t encouraged our people to go to the polls,” Ney said.
Through August, Keep Dollars in Benton County has spent $517,932, leaving a balance of $7,067.
Most of the money raised has gone to National Ballot Access, the Georgia company paid to collect enough signatures from registered voters to place the alcohol sales question on the November general election ballot.
Keep Dollars in Benton County submitted 56,635 signatures to the county clerk on July 12 for certification. The group submitted extra signatures expecting some to be rejected as invalid.
County workers finished verifying the required 41,171 signatures on July 23, and no one challenged the signatures in circuit court, meaning the question will appear on the ballot.
The 41,171 signatures needed to put the issue before the public is 38 percent of the 108,346 voters registered in Benton County on June 1.