Panel To Review Whether AG Candidate Violated Campaign Rules

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The state ethics panel is investigating allegations that Democratic attorney general candidate Mike Lee violated state campaign rules.

State Republican Party Executive Director Sarah Jo Reynolds filed the complaint against Lee with the Arkansas Ethics Commission, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . She alleges that he filed three campaign finance reports late during his primary campaign, violated a corporate contributions ban by accepting what she contends was an “in-kind donation” of food and drink from a Little Rock restaurant, and failed to include “paid for by” disclosures on his yard signs.

The complaints are similar to those made last week by Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s re-election campaign, which said Lee failed to comply with campaign finance rules and disclosure requirements on his yard signs.

The Lee campaign has denied making any violations. The late reports resulted from problems with the state’s new online reporting system, campaign spokesman Jacob Kauffman said in a statement. As for the yard signs, he said the “paid for by” disclosures are present in fine print and produced photos documenting that.

As for the $850 in food and drink provided by Trio’s restaurant in Little Rock, Kauffman said it was inadvertently attributed to its owner, Little Rock City Director Capi Peck, rather than to the restaurant. An amended campaign finance report has been filed to make the correction.

“Simply put, there is nothing to these political claims that note inadvertent, clerical errors,” he said.

Lee has proposed new ethics laws that would bar candidates from amending reports that show “illegal campaign finance filings.” That wouldn’t have pertained to the questioned food-and-drink donations because there was nothing illegal about them to begin with, Kauffman said.

“This is a sad attempt to distract Arkansas voters from the fact that Leslie Rutledge won’t investigate corruption in the state Legislature,” Kauffman said.

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