The Arkansas Ethics Commission will continue the process of determining whether or not campaign contributions to Judge Mike Maggio’s election committee violated state campaign finance laws.
The commission met Friday morning in a session that, procedurally, could have ended only in a finding of no violation or a finding that there was good reason to continue the process.
According to the procedures of the AEC, a finding of cause to continue an investigation comes when an issue cannot be decided as a matter of fact and law (for example, if an official had filed a form late and it was recorded as being filed late), and cannot properly be dismissed with a finding that no violation has occurred.
If a finding that no violation has occurred is reached, the finding is agreed upon in a public vote by the AEC. There was no vote at the end of today’s hearing. It is also part of the AEC’s procedure at this point to issue a written settlement offer in which a disciplinary action can be agreed-upon and the matter resolved without further investigation or hearing.
The AEC is investigating whether campaign contributions distributed to seven political action committees (PACs) from corporations under the "umbrella" of a state nursing home interest owned by Mike Morton were in violation of a state statute banning a candidate or anyone acting on their behalf from accepting contributions of more than $2,000 by one "person."
This investigation by the AEC is running in parallel to an investigation by the state’s Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission as to whether the campaign contributions to Maggio’s election committee by Morton or entities under his corporate "umbrella" were made in exchange for Maggio’s reduction of a jury award in a Greenbrier nursing home negligent death case from $5.2 million to $1 million and what is rumored to be a federal law enforcement investigation into possible charges.
The contribution came on the heels of Maggio’s reduction of the victims’ compensation.
The AEC must make a final decision within 180 days. The complaint, made by Tom Buchanan, the attorney representing the victim in the Greenbrier nursing home case, was acknowledged as received by the AEC on March 27, 2014.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb, can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)