Bart Hester Returns $1,000 to Attorney General’s PAC; McDaniel Responds

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Bart Hester, a Cave Springs businessman who won a state Senate primary election on May 22, has returned a $1,000 contribution to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s political action committee.

The McDaniel Leadership PAC contributed $1,000 to Hester on May 31, according to a quarterly report filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on July 16.

Hester is a Republican, and McDaniel is a Democrat. McDaniel in June announced plans to run for governor in 2014.

Contacted by phone Tuesday, McDaniel’s campaign office had no immediate comment on why the Democrat would contribute to a Republican legislative candidate.

However, McDaniel responded by email Wednesday, saying, “Hyper-partisanship is not working in Washington, and it is not going to work in Arkansas. My decision to help an unopposed GOP nominee for the Arkansas Senate retire his campaign debt was made with this view in mind.”

Hester will be on the Nov. 6 ballot but faces no opposition in the general election.

McDaniel’s PAC also contributed $250 to Davy Carter’s general election House campaign. Carter, a Republican from Cabot, could not be reached Tuesday for comment. He also faces no opposition in November.

Hester said Tuesday he amassed a campaign debt of about $25,000 in the primary election, mostly in campaign expenses incurred by his political consultant, Keith Emis.

Hester defeated Rep. Tim Summers, R-Bentonville, in the GOP primary for the newly created Senate District 1 seat encompassing Bentonville and surrounding areas.

Hester said he returned the PAC contribution about two weeks ago because he will not be supporting the Democratic attorney general’s candidacy for governor and will not be able to reciprocate by giving the attorney general a campaign contribution in the governor’s race.

“With me not being about to return the support, I don’t feel good about keeping his contribution,” Hester said.

Hester said it is too early to say which Republican he will support in the next governor’s race.

Hester has scheduled a fundraiser at an undetermined location in Little Rock on Sept. 13 to help retire the debt.