Carlton Wing, the incumbent state representative in North Little Rock, is a nice guy. People who know him all say so.
But financial disclosure forms filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office show that as of September 1, not a single person within his district contributed to his 2020 reelection campaign.
His fundraising strategy of getting big hunks of money almost exclusively from Political Action Committees representing pharmaceutical companies, the fossil fuel industry and other deep-pocket business interests is perfectly legal. But when 85 percent of your campaign donations come from special interests, that’s worth noting. Who is Wing really working for?
Wing’s PAC-heavy fundraising plan draws plenty of cash. His campaign pulled in $28,750 during the current election cycle, which began when he officially filed to run for office in 2019. The vast majority of contributions to his 2020 campaign came from PACs run by business interests like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobile, Arkansas Realtors PAC and others.
Contributions to Wing’s 2020 campaign, combined with residual funds from his previous campaigns, gave him a fund balance of $64,120.37 at the end of August.
Hardly any of Wing’s funds from previous years came from his district, either. Attorney and blogger Matt Campbell gave Wing’s financials a look in 2018. He found that only 7 people in district 38 contributed to him in that election cycle.
What does Wing have to say about the lack of financial support from voters he represents? He concedes information on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website showing he’s logged zero constituent contributions is correct.
But Wing said money from PACs doesn’t affect his work as a legislator.
“You know, what happens when you receive a contribution from any kind of organization or political action committee, those represent anywhere from tens to dozens to hundreds and sometimes even thousands of workers,” he said. “People who want their voice heard. So that’s what it is, it’s a small contribution from hundreds and thousands of workers. And not necessarily workers, it’s hundreds and thousands of citizens who combine together and say hey, this is something we think is important. I make it clear, I think almost every one of my colleagues does the same thing, with anybody who contributes to a campaign, you say thank you. But there are no promises made on any future votes at all. We all, I think I can speak for everybody on both sides of the aisle. We do what’s best for the state of Arkansas and for our constituents.”
When it comes to fundraising, Wing’s challenger, Matthew Stallings, takes a different approach. Stallings collected $63,552.87 by the end of August for his 2020 run. Stallings said he does accept PAC money, but only from labor groups. About 23 percent of his funding comes from labor PACs.
“I’ve accepted money from labor PACs,” he said. “The way I see it is that it’s voluntary contributions from the members of those organizations. These are PACs that are funded by working people.”
For the most part, though, Stallings’s campaign funds come from individual people.
As of the end of August, individual donors supplied 60 percent of Stallings’s $63,552.87 campaign balance. Of the $37,852.87 Stallings reports in individual donations, $9,422 came from 47 people living within District 38.
“It’s important to me to earn support from people who can actually vote for me,” he said.