Group questions McDaniel's 'impartiality' to review immigration initiative
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline)- Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has raked in campaign cash from a group opposed to a plan to require state agencies to verify that those seeking government programs are legal U.S. residents, one of the proposal's backers says.
The controversial proposal would require residents at least 13-years-old to sign an affidavit that they live in the United States legally before they could receive local, state and certain federal benefits that are administered by state agencies or political subdivisions.
McDaniel, a Democrat, rejected the original proposal to put the plan on the ballot because of ambiguous language. He said the first ballot title, at 923 words, could face legal challenge for being too complex.
Secure Arkansas, which is spearheading the effort, filed a revised proposal this week, and McDaniel has until April 30 to either certify or reject it.
Kenny Wallis, president of Keep Arkansas Legal, said voters ought to know that a group opposed to the plan, the Arkansas Friendship Coalition, has donated thousands of dollars to McDaniel's campaign for attorney general.
"Our findings raise serious questions about the impartiality of our attorney general since he has received over $36,000 from members of a group that is directly and actively opposed to a measure he is deciding on," Wallis said.
The Arkansas Friendship Coalition is an umbrella group of churches, civic groups and businesses opposed to punitive measures targeted at illegal immigrants.
"Arkansas voters deserve to know who might be influencing the attorney general's decision on an issue as important as their right to vote on a ballot measure concerning illegal immigration. $36,000 is a lot of influence, and voters should know that," Wallis said.
Once the ballot language is approved by the attorney general, Secure Arkansas can begin gathering the required 61,974 signatures needed to place the initiative on the November ballot.
Exceptions to the law would include emergency medical services, organ transplants, disaster relief, prenatal care and access to crisis counseling and short-term shelters.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.