LITTLE ROCK — A political candidate in Arkansas cannot legally make unlimited in-kind contributions to his or her campaign through a corporation that he or she owns, the state Ethics Commission said Friday.
The commission issued an advisory opinion at the request of state Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Burkhalter had asked the Ethics Commission whether campaign laws permit his business to donate space for his campaign headquarters in a building the business owns.
Although Arkansas law allows candidates to make unlimited donations to themselves, a corporation may contribute no more than $2,000 per candidate per election. Providing free space for a candidate’s headquarters would be considered an in-kind contribution equivalent to the fair-market value of the space and could not be unlimited, the commission said.
"Unlike a sole proprietorship in which the business and its owner are the same ‘person,’ a corporation is recognized as a legal entity separate from its incorporators," the commission said in the opinion.
If a candidate directly owned a building, he or she could make an unlimited donation of space in the building to his or her campaign, the panel said.
Burkhalter did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.