Fulfer’s Loan Looks like Illegal Campaign Contribution
Why is the pro-business, “Personal Responsibility” candidate in SD7 skirting finance laws?
Last week we told you about an ethics complaint we filed against Colby Fulfer. Thanks to a tip from a reader, we were also notified about an illegal campaign contribution Fulfer received. In December the Arkansas Times first reported that Fulfer listed a loan from Wilkins Homes Inc. on a campaign finance report. The problem? Wilkins Homes is not a financial institution, and Arkansas campaign finance rules require campaign loans to be from accredited financial institutions. Wilkins Homes is a home builder and real estate development company.
Finance law does allow for personal loans to candidates. It appears that Wilkins Homes is a family business, which Fulfer’s late parents registered in the 80’s. Nonetheless, if it were a personal loan Fulfer received, the $20,000 amount would be listed under his name, not Wilkins Homes.
Under section § 200 l of Arkansas’s Rules of Campaign Finance and Disclosure, a financial institution is defined as “any commercial bank, savings and loan, mutual savings bank or savings bank, credit union, insurance company, brokerage house, or any corporation that is in the business of lending money and that is subject to state or federal regulation.” Wilkins Homes is not subject to state and federal regulation, which means Wilkins Homes amount to Fulfer’s campaign is not an enforceable loan.
Moreover, section § 225 allows for repayment of loans from campaign funds, but only to a financial institution (or to the candidate if it was a personal loan). As a result, Fulfer would not be able to use campaign funds to repay Wilkins Homes. Doing so is prohibited, and it’s another strike against Fulfer’s campaign. The loan from Wilkins Homes is NOT a proper loan. It is, however, a contribution from Wilkins Homes that greatly exceeds donation limits. Fulfer should not have accepted this loan.
Wilkins Homes loaned the money to Fulfer’s campaign at the same time Fulfer reported a direct mail expenditure of over $18,000. Listing the $20,000 loan appears to be Fulfer’s way of evading Arkansas disclosure laws. (This is neither here nor there, but the person who did Fulfer’s mail? Our buddy Rett Hatcher).
One nugget of irony: if Fulfer had filled out his Statement of Financial Interest, we would have a much better understanding of his obligations to Wilkins Homes Inc. Have more info of this candidate or info regarding the special election in senate district 7? Reach out to On AR Watch.