A Louisiana millionaire is the biggest funder behind Republican Northwest Arkansas House candidates Jed Duggar and John La Tour. But you might not know it.
The donor, W. Ross Little Jr., uses two different names and swaps between addresses in Louisiana and Arkansas on Duggar’s and La Tour’s campaign finance disclosures with the Arkansas Secretary of State.
W. Ross Little donated to John La Tour’s campaign under the name W. Ross Jr. in January and September of this year, listing 2702 South College Avenue in Fayetteville as his address. Both of his donations are designated for the general election and are for $2,800, the maximum allowable individual contribution. If the filings are correct, W. Ross Little (using the name W. Ross Jr.) gave La Tour double the amount allowed by law. W. Ross Little’s wife, Julie Little, also donated to La Tour’s campaign in January, but listed her real name and a Louisiana address, 101 Ruthwood Drive in Lafayette.
On a phone call Monday, W. Ross Little confirmed he is the person behind donations from W. Ross Jr. at 2702 South College Avenue. While he did once live at 2702 South College Drive, not “South College Avenue” as is listed on the filings, he has since moved down the block to a different house on the same street, Little said. The move appears to have taken place months ago. It’s unclear why “2702 South College Avenue” is listed as the address for “W. Ross Jr.” with a donation given in September.
While La Tour’s finance filings are riddled with incorrect or misleading names and addresses, filings for candidate Jed Duggar are what first brought W. Ross Little to our attention. Last week we reported that a donor named Ross Little gave three times the maximum allowable contribution to Duggar’s campaign for AR House District 89. Duggar since amended those filings to show the donations came from both Ross Little and his wife, Julie Little, and that the $8,400 in donations were split among the primary and general campaigns, making them allowable under Arkansas law. All of the family’s donations to Duggar list the Lafayette, Louisiana, address.
Is it legal for W. Ross Little Jr. to give to different campaigns using different names and addresses? Is it legal for campaigns to accept those donations? Arkansas law governing how campaign donors must identify themselves has never really been challenged, experts at the Arkansas Ethics Commission said.
State law requires that all campaign contributions be made and accepted in the legal name of the person providing the funds. “The campaign finance laws would require you to accept it and report it under the person’s legal name,” Ethics Commission Director Graham Sloan said.
Rules governing the addresses for donors are less stringent. A donor must be able to be reached at the address given, but doesn’t necessarily have to live there, Sloan said. Post office boxes are acceptable, he pointed out.
So who is W. Ross Little Jr. of Lafayette, Louisiana, and Fayetteville, Arkansas? Social media, news reports and public records show Little is a homeschool advocate, retired banker and a generous donor to anti-government candidates across the country. He gave $1,000 to Bob Ballinger for his state senate run in 2018. A Republican delegate for Louisiana, Little is registered to vote in Louisiana. His social media accounts display disdain for public education and resentment of women in the workforce.
The Littles’ $8,400 in donations to both Duggar and La Tour make the Little family the biggest campaign funders for these candidates.
Candidate La Tour took significant heat this summer from blogger Matt Campbell with The Blue Hog Report. Campbell called out La Tour for using campaign funds to buy a bulletproof vest and to pay himself rent for campaign space in a building he owns.
La Tour said Monday he is no longer paying himself rent. He last paid himself rent for campaign headquarters in July, when he made three separate rent payments totaling $1,380 for that month. In all, La Tour paid $6,630 of his campaign donations in rent to himself.
La Tour’s latest financial filing shows that he is still paying himself, but for a different reason. An expense report dated September 22 shows La Tour reimbursed himself $700 for sign materials.
While correlation does not indicate causation, the La Tour family faces significant debt. Records on the Washington County tax collector’s website reveal La Tour was more than $28,000 in arrears on property tax payments as of Monday, October 20. (His property tax bills are listed under both John La Tour and John Latour on the Washington County assessor’s site, requiring two separate searches). And in February, Bank of America sued John La Tour’s wife, Elizabeth La Tour, for failure to pay nearly $10,000 in credit card bills.