|Updated: 5/18/2012 5:46 pm
||Published: 5/18/2012 4:52 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The man backing an increase to a tax related to natural gas exploration calls those opposing him "un-American". Sheffield Nelson feels attempts to suppress voter signatures sends the wrong message.
Perhaps you've seen a poster in your mailbox from Arkansans for Jobs and Affordable Energy or Stop Casinos Now. They're both asking you not to sign petitions that could land on the ballot this fall.
Sheffield Nelson backs a plan to raise the severance tax on natural gas drillers and he's facing opposition from AJAE.
"That's the reason I say it is un-American and undemocratic for those people to try and stop the vote," Nelson says. "Never has money been spent to stop a ballot issue from going on the ballot."
UALR political science professor Joe Giammo sees it differently.
"I don't think that's particularly unusual. You certainly have groups that organize in opposition to ballot measures all the time," Giammo says.
Giammo says the groups, which include "Stop Casinos Now" aren't keeping anyone from signing up, but he does see a different twist this year.
"It's a little bit unusual to see the phone number asking people to call in if they see someone trying to get people to sign," Giammo says.
Randy Zook, chairman of AJAE responded Friday afternoon to Nelson’s claims.
"There is nothing more American than standing up for jobs that Arkansas families depend on,” Zook says. “In fact, what's 'un-American,' and un-Arkansan is using empty publicity stunts to put out false claims and intentionally mislead the public."
Both ballot initiatives require 78,161 valid signatures turned into the office Secretary of State Mark Martin in July in order to appear on the general election ballot on November 6.