LITTLE ROCK - State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb on Wednesday accused the state Democratic Party of violating federal campaign finance laws to aid U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge, a charge the Democratic Party and Eldridge said was demonstrably false.
In a news release, Webb said the state Democratic Party “has failed to disclose names of the donors of the Eldridge Victory Fund, which is in violation of federal election law.”
However, a quick search of the Federal Election Commission’s website revealed that the Eldridge Victory Fund, a fundraising committee created through an agreement between the Eldridge campaign and the state Democratic Party, disclosed donors’ names in its most recent filing.
The committee reported receiving:
• $10,000 from Ross Whipple of Arkadelphia, chairman of Summit Bank and CEO of Horizon Capital management, in December.
• $10,000 from Ross Whipple in April.
• $10,000 from Whipple’s wife, Mary, in December.
• $10,000 from Mary Whipple in April.
• $5,000 from James Moss of Stuttgart, owner of Moss Transport, in March.
• $2,5oo from lawyer Myron Cherry of Chicago in June.
• $500 from former state Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford of Pine Bluff in April.
H.L. Moody, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said it is true that the party has reported to the FEC money it has received from the victory fund without listing the individual donors, but he said the party is not required to list the donors in its filing. He said the victory fund was required to list individual donors, and it did.
“The Eldridge Victory Fund rightly and legally disclosed who their donors are. It’s not like there’s some big secret there,” Moody said.
An email to the state Republican Party was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon. A call to party headquarters was answered by a recording saying the party’s mailbox was full.
Eldridge of Fayetteville, a former U.S. attorney who is challenging the re-election bid of Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, said in a statement Wednesday:
“Our campaign is complying with all FEC laws. Joint fundraising agreements and coordinated expenditures are standard, transparent and fully disclosable practices in elections, as evidenced by the Arkansas Republican Party’s joint fundraising committee with the Trump Victory Fund. Our campaign has a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic Party of Arkansas and a coordinated campaign exists to advance our mutual efforts to engage with voters and help Arkansans.”
Webb also said in his statement that since April the Democratic Party has paid Conner’s younger brother and campaign manager, Preston Eldridge, more than $13,000 and that the victory fund has raised more than $40,000 from family members.
“It is quite clear that Conner’s family is giving money, above the limits of what they are allowed to contribute, to Conner’s victory fund in order to funnel the money to the DPA to supplement Preston Eldridge’s salary,” Webb said.
Moody said FEC filings show that no campaign contribution limits have been exceeded and said the Republican Party has provided no evidence of any violations. He noted that Webb said nothing about filing a complaint.
“There’s no complaint being filed because nobody would ever find for them and against us because there haven’t been any violations,” he said.