Reports Shed Light on Backers of Wet, Dry Groups in Arkansas

by Lee Hogan  on Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014 4:12 pm  

Sellers said the initiative is not so much about alcohol, but more about jobs and local sales tax revenue.

Our Community, Our Dollars

In Craighead, Saline and Faulkner counties, a group called Our Community, Our Dollars is pushing for votes on retail alcohol sales. 

The committee is funded by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville and Kum & Go of West Des Moines, Iowa. In its first financial report in May, the committee reported $625,000 in contributions -- $600,000 from Wal-Mart and $25,000 from Kum & Go. 

Our Community, Our Dollars, headed by former Wal-Mart executive Jay Allen and Arkansas Grocers & Retailers Merchants President Polly Martin, has already shelled out more than $220,000 for canvassing efforts in the three counties.

To gather signatures in all three counties, the committee has hired National Ballot Access of Lawrenceville, Georgia, a private petition drive management firm that collects signatures for ballot initiatives, referendums and recalls. Petition drives began in May.

As with all county issues, the committee needs signatures from 38 percent of the registered voters in each county. That translates to about 25,000 signatures in Saline County, 24,800 in Faulkner County and 20,000 in Craighead County.

Natalie Ghidotti, a spokeswoman for the committee, says that so far, canvassers have collected more than half the number of signatures they need in each county. 

Liquor-Backed Opposition

In some places where the wet-dry question is debated, opposition to alcohol sales can make for strange bedfellows. In many cases, alcohol retailers in nearby counties spent money to oppose the option of going wet.

In Faulkner and Craighead counties, opposition groups have formed in response to the Our Community, Our Dollars ballot initiative.

In Faulkner County, the Conway County Legal Beverage Association has formed the CCLBA Action Fund committee. The CCLBA is a registered nonprofit that is "engaged in the election process of proposed changes in the alcoholic beverage local option laws," according to tax information.



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