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Campaign donations for Arkansas’ 2022 election, explained

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nyssa Kruse | May 19, 2022 at 3:26 p.m.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders (left) chats with with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones (right) during the first day of candidate filing on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, at the state Capitol in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Millions of dollars have been donated to campaigns in Arkansas as candidates seek a variety of federal, state and local offices. Here are the basics on who’s been donating and where money has been going.

Back up: what are the rules on campaign donations in Arkansas?

For 2022, the maximum an individual donor can give to a candidate running for office is $2,900 per candidate, per election, which often translates to one donor giving a candidate $5,800, or $2,900 each for the party primary and general election.

Big donors can also contribute to political action committees (PACs) and political parties that are likely to send money to the campaigns of their preferred candidates.

Donations from PACs and political parties to candidates are limited by the same rules as individuals: $2,900 per candidate, per election or a total of $5,800 for a primary and general election.

Who has made the most donations to state races in this election cycle so far?

Arkansas' top individual contributors, as of March 31, were:

• Warren Stephens, chairman and CEO of Stephens Inc. in Little Rock: $57,850

• Louis Cella, Oaklawn Racing's president and St. Louis resident: $50,200

• Jim Walton, Walmart heir and Bentonville businessman: $44,100

These figures exclude donations to federal races, such as U.S. House and Senate.

Which PACs have made the most donations to state races so far?

The biggest contributors among PACs, as of March 31, included:

• The state Realtors association: almost $182,900

• Nursing home owners' Arkansas Health Care Association: $125,000

• DBH Management Consultants, a lobbying firm: almost $99,000

These figures exclude donations to federal races, such as U.S. House and Senate.

Which candidates have received the most donations so far?

Republican former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ campaign for governor has shattered previous fundraising records: total contributions through May 14 stood at about $15 million, according to campaign finance records.

Recent gubernatorial candidates who broke records -- Democrat Mike Ross in 2014 and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2018 -- collected $6.4 million and $5.9 million, respectively.

Other candidates who have received significant donations this election cycle include:

• Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, a Republican whose campaign for attorney general had raised about $2.3 million as of May 14

• Democrat Chris Jones, former executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, who raised about $1.9 million in his race for governor as of May 14

• Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican whose campaign for lieutenant governor has raised about $1 million as of May 14

Read more about campaign contributions to this year’s election from reporter Lisa Hammersly and go here to read the latest on contributions to governor candidates and go here to read more about donations to other state executive office races, both from reporter Michael Wickline.

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