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

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

Copeland said he was open from the start that the committee's support was largely from liquor stores in neighboring areas.

"My whole thinking was I was trying to keep it out," he said. "Wherever the money came from was fine by me. I told [the liquor store contributors] my ultimate goal would be to put them out of business, they laughed."

Copeland admitted it was bothersome to be backed by the liquor stores.

"It definitely was not something I would have preferred," he said. "In fairness, I talked to many churches and individuals that are against it, and they were not willing to put up a dime. I utilized who was willing to help fight it. [The liquor stores] were honest with me, and I was honest with them."

The Jacksonville Wet-Dry Campaign committee formed in September in support of getting the issue on the November ballot. The committee chair, Phillip Carlisle of Jacksonville, said the committee does support liquor sales by the drink, but the main focus is having the issue voted on by the Jacksonville residents.

Carlisle said the initiative needs about 5,100 signatures and has about 2,100, currently. The vote would be for the Gray Township, which includes parts of Jacksonville and Pulaski County, Carlisle said.

So far, all $40,000 in contributions the committee has received has come from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

Independence County Battle

In Independence County, the Wet/Dry Let's Decide group is pushing for the legalization of alcohol sales across the county. 

Phillip Finch, the committee chair, told Arkansas Business in January that the campaign would cost about $10,000 and require the signatures of about 8,000 registered voters. 

Finch said he hopes the initiative, if passed, would generate tax revenues for the cities and county. 

As of May 31, the committee had more than $800 in cash on hand, and had spent more than $1,500 in ads and signs.



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