LITTLE ROCK — A group that tried unsuccessfully this summer to qualify an ethics initiative for the general election ballot failed again Tuesday get the attorney general’s clearance to begin promoting a substitute proposal for consideration in 2014.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the popular name and ballot title for a proposal by Regnat Populus, saying it was unclear who would fall under an exception to the measure’s proposed ban on gifts to legislators and constitutional officers.
This summer the group proposed sponsored an initiative that included the ban, along with prohibiting corporations and labor unions from making political contributions and establishing a two-year "cooling off" period between when a lawmaker leaves office and is permitted to start lobbying.
After the group failed to gather enough signatures to place the measure on this year’s ballot, it submitted a similar proposal to the attorney general, who is responsible for certifying that a citizens’ initiative’s popular name and ballot title are clear and unambiguous.
McDaniel said Tuesday that the new Regnat Populus proposal did not meet those standards.
The attorney general said the measure was unclear in making exceptions to the gift-giving ban for the "spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, etc." of lawmakers and constitutional officers.
"On one reading of this provision, any person listed can only receive a ‘gift’ from a member of that person’s own family. On another reading of this provision, any person listed can receive a gift from a family member of any other person listed," McDaniel said. "This ambiguity must be clarified before I can ensure that the ballot title fully and fairly summarizes the measure."
He also noted that the new proposal alters some of the punctuation and wording of the earlier proposal that his office cleared for signature-gathering, and said those deviations from the earlier, certified version are deficient.