Thousands of Dollars Spent in First Months of 2016 on County Alcohol Sale Battles

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(via Fox16) Thousands of dollars have been spent in the first few months of 2016 in multiple Arkansas counties where groups are fighting over permitting alcohol sales. 

In Johnson County, where a movement to make the county wet has collected half of the necessary signatures to place the issue on the November ballot, more than $60,000 was spent in February and March, according to documents from the Arkansas Ethics Commission. 

The Share Committee, which exists to “oppose the qualification and passage of a local option ballot question to permit the sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages in Johnson County” received $20,000 from the Conway County Legal Beverage Association in March, the documents state. 

The Courier reported that the Conway County Legal Beverage Association is funded by its members, the retail liquor stores in Conway County.

In February, the Share Committee donated $18,000 to a group called Stand Strong, Stay Dry, Be Safe in Lamar, which exists for the same reason that the Share Committee does, according to their filings with the Arkansas Ethics Commission. 

Stand Strong, Stay Dry, Be Safe then spent $17,000 on advertising with the Johnson County Graphic newspaper, signs, mail fliers, a billboard and more, according to Arkansas Ethics Commission documents. 

Fighting to allow the sale of alcohol in Johnson County is a group called Keep our Dollars in Johnson County.

In January, the group was given $40,000 by Walmart, according to financial documents. In February, Keep our Dollars in Johnson County received an additional $3,250 in donations from multiple individual businesses and individuals. That same month, the group spent $40,000 on a signature gathering firm in Denver, Colo.

In Randolph County, a group called Keep Revenue in Randolph County was formed to put an initiative on the November ballot, allowing voters to decide the future of alcohol sales in the county. The group received nearly $35,000 in contributions from Walmart and other businesses and individuals in January, according to Arkansas Ethics Commission documents. 

That same month, the group spent $30,000 on the same signature gathering firm hired by Keep our Dollars in Johnson County. Another $3,500 went to a consulting firm in Little Rock, financial documents state. 

Another group called Keep Randolph County Safe formed to “disqualify and defeat” any ballot initiative allowing alcohol sales in the county, according to their ethics commission filings. As of Monday at 3 p.m., they had not reported any funds raised to the Arkansas Ethics Commission. 

The group Stay Dry, Stay Safe was formed in Crawford County to oppose any ballot initiative that would allow the sale of alcohol in the county, documents from the Arkansas Ethics Commission state. In February, the group received $34,000. The group spent more than $30,000 on signs, printing, mail fliers and more.

Stay Dry, Stay Safe received its money from another group called Citizens for Our County’s Future. That group was given $38,000 in February.

On the other side of the issue in Crawford County is a group called Keep the Dollars in Crawford County. In February, the group was given $1,000. 

In Independence County, the group Keep our Dollars in Independence County is working to place an initiative on the November ballot that would allow liquor sales. Walmart gave the group $40,000 in January, according to ethics commission documents. In February, Kroger donated $3,000 to the group, and White County Petroleum Co. donated $5,000. 

Keep our Dollars in Independence County paid $40,000 to the same Denver signature gathering firm hired by Keep our Dollars in Johnson County. Financial documents state the group also paid more than $1,000 to a Little Rock consulting firm. 

Keep Independence County Safe opposes any ballot initiative to allow alcohol sales in the county. In February, the group was given $315, according to Arkansas Ethics Commission documents. The group had a billboard and website donated to it. 

In Little River County, a group called Vote for Growth in Little River supports allowing alcohol sales in the county. Walmart gave the group $30,000 in January, and that money went to pay the same signature gathering firm Keep our Dollars in Johnson County hired, finance documents state. 

Walmart also donated $10,000 to a group fighting to allow alcohol sales in Farmington (Washington County), according to filings with the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Washington County is wet, but alcohol sales are prohibited in Farmington, according to Alcoholic Beverage Control. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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