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Thursday, June 22, 2006 

Willett: "Sour Grapes"

State Democratic Party mum on loan strategy

Truth Blog: What kind of political strategy is this Willett? Sounds like the kind of strategy when you spend too much money and you can't pay all the bills strategy. How many more loans are you guys going to take? It seems like yesterday you were bragging about all that money you boys raised and now it looks like we are getting desperate doesn't it? Maybe if you guys quit charging meals at Hooters you wouldn't have this problem... Flashback to 2005 when the Dem party borrowed another $100,000: "Willett said the line of credit was opened so that he could begin spending money on the party, and not have to wait until the spring of next year, about one month before the primary election. 'The whole strategy is just to get the money earlier,' Willett said." Well Jason spring has come and gone and you guys spent all the money in like three months. Is this the same strategy as get the money earlier plan? How are you guys going to pay this one off next spring? You can always call on Howard Dean or maybe you have tried that already and he has not been willing... Anyway this is going to be interesting to watch...

The state Democratic Party took out a $100,000 loan in May, a month after it paid off almost all of its $150,000 debt from last year, the party’s campaign finance reports show, and its chairman isn’t saying much about its latest debt.

“We are going to have the resources to win in November,” state Democratic Party Chairman Jason Willett of Jonesboro said. “But we are not going to comment on internal strategy.”

The party also reported that it has received more than $830,000 and spent almost that much this year.

The Republican Party has reported raising much less money but has more cash on hand than the Democrats.

Clint Reed of Little Rock, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the Democrats’ new debt shows that “Wild Pitch Willett knows it’s going to take a lot of money to sell his liberal ticket to the people of Arkansas.”

Reed said he’s calling Willett that name because Willett’s prone to issuing “cartoonishlike slogans... and shallow explanations without substance.”

Willett, a former district director for U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, replied, “This is the kind of trash talk you’d expect from somebody supporting a Washington lobbyist for governor.”

Former Homeland Security Undersecretary and 3rd District Congressman Asa Hutchinson of Little Rock is the Republican nominee for governor. He’s said he’s no longer a lobbyist.

Attorney General Mike Beebe of Searcy, a former state senator, is the Democratic nominee for governor.

Two months ago Willett said the party paid off its $150,000 revolving line of credit with First National Bank of Jonesboro after collecting roughly $750,000 in filing fees from candidates for federal and state offices. At that time, he said that line of credit might be tapped again.

The filing fees raised this year helped pay Democratic expenses, which include paying off last year’s loan, contributing to the coordinated campaign to help all party candidates, and contributing $2,500 to Democratic candidates unopposed in the primary but facing Republican opponents in the general election, said Democratic spokesman Bart Haynie.

Willett has repeatedly described the debt incurred last year as an investment to help the party regain the governor’s office this year. Republican Mike Huckabee has been governor since 1996.

Among other things, Willett has said the party has opened a Northwest Arkansas office, added employees and paid competitive salaries so the party doesn’t have constant turnover.

According to a report filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, the Democratic Party of Arkansas took out a $100,000 loan from First National Bank of Jonesboro with an interest rate of 6.5 percent May 23.

The party owes $5 on a $150,000 loan that it took out from the same bank with an interest rate of 4 percent May 3 of last year, the report said.

For the first five months of this year, the state Democratic Party reported receipts of $833,884 and disbursements of $803,180. Cash on hand amounted to $39,256 at the end of May.

In contrast, the state Republican Party reported receipts of $368,734 and disbursements of $353,665 through the end of May. Cash on hand came to $107,394 at the end of May.

The GOP reported debts and obligations of $38,868 at the end of May.

Reed said these debts already have been paid, but the party has to amend numerous previous reports to reflect that.

A year ago, former state Democratic Party Chairman Ron Oliver of North Little Rock, whom Willett ousted in February 2005, said the party’s going $50,000 into debt through May 2005 meant that the party was in serious financial trouble.

At that time, Willett called Oliver’s observation sour grapes. (BY MICHAEL R. WICKLINE ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE)

I have a question. Who runs this site? And what is their background? Just curious.

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