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Arkansas PoliticsCampaign Fact Check

False And Deceptive Claims – Sen. James Sturch

Campaign Fact Check Series

When someone lies about military service it is called “stolen valor.” What should it be called when a candidate makes a false claim about his voting record?

In a campaign mailer sent out by Senator James Sturch (R-Batesville) he makes six statements about his voting record. One claim is false and his voting record indicates the opposite of what was claimed. Three more claims about his voting record are deceptive or misleading at best. Only two of the six were true statements.

Why did Senator Sturch make a false statement about his voting record when his record can easily be checked? Was it an intentional act to fool voters? Does he not actually know what he voted on or how he voted? Did his campaign manager write the false statement and Senator Sturch paid so little attention to his own campaign he didn’t check his campaign material? None of the possibilities are good.


Under the heading “A Record of Effective Conservative Leadership” Sturch makes the following claims.

1. CLAIM: Passed legislation to ban-critical race theory and other divisive curriculum from public schools

FALSE. It is false because no legislation has been passed to block CRT and other racist indoctrination in Arkansas public schools. Senator Sturch couldn’t pass something that wasn’t voted on.

The legislature didn’t vote on the issue because the governor protected CRT by pushing the legislature to not vote on such legislation saying they should leave the decision on banning CRT up to each school district in the state. (There are hundreds of school districts in the state so it would be an impossible task to stop CRT one school district at a time.)

It gets worse because, when Senator Sturch had the opportunity to vote to ban state agencies (not schools) from using CRT (SB627 of 2021) he didn’t vote on the legislation even though he was present that day. A failure to vote works against legislation because it can serve to deny the majority vote needed and not voting is often used to try to block a bill without going on record as a “No” vote.

2. CLAIM: Reduced taxes for families, small businesses, and veterans

DECEPTIVE. Sturch, like almost all other Arkansas legislators, voted for some legislation to reduce taxes, however, Senator Sturch deceives voters by not acknowledging that he also voted for major tax INCREASES in 2017 and 2019. The tax increases he voted for helped the state amass a record surplus of revenue taken from taxpayers while Arkansans suffered during the pandemic.

Here are some tax increases he voted FOR in 2017 and 2019:

    1. Voted for the Internet Tax paid by Arkansas consumers (SB576 of 2019)
    2. Voted multiple times for a gas and diesel tax increase (SB336 of 2019 and HB1726 of 2017)
    3. Voted for $300 million in tax increases for highways and roads (HJR2018 of 2019)
    4. Voted for a bill which (although it gave a tax break for military retirement pay), increased taxes by imposing the sales tax on digital downloads (such as e-books, movies, and music), increased the sales taxes on candy and soft drinks, and applied the income tax to unemployment compensation. (HB1162 of 2017)
    5. Voted for an increase in tax/fees on water bills (HB1737 of 2019)
    6. Voted for an increase in tax/fees on cell phone bills (HB1564 of 2019)

By the way, when Senator Sturch said he cut taxes on veterans that is deceptive too. He appears to be referring to (HB1162 of 2017) which gave an income tax cut to only miliary retirees, NOT ALL VETERANS. Most veterans like the rest of the citizens of Arkansas had their taxes go up because of the tax increases included in the bill. See #4 above.

3. CLAIM: Stood up for excelling local schools and expanded scholarship opportunities for all students

DECEPTIVE. As for the claim he “expanded scholarship opportunities for all students” we were not able to find any votes on scholarships for ALL students. What we found were his votes AGAINST scholarships for students of LOW-INCOME families to help them to have to option to go to private schools. Sturch consistently voted AGAINST school choice even though those bills would not have diverted public school funds.

Here are votes we found on scholarships for school choice.

    1. SB680 of 2021 is a small program to provide no more than 300 scholarships to private schools for students from LOW-INCOME families. The few scholarships are funded by donations which that qualify the donor for a tax credit. Sturch was present that day but did not vote. Not voting works against the bill because it can help deny a majority vote.
    2. SB539 of 2019 would have provided private school scholarships to students who are from LOW-INCOME families. Sturch voted AGAINST the bill.
    3. HB1222 of 2017 would have created a four-year pilot project for educational savings accounts for funding school choice options. Sturch voted AGAINST the bill.

4. CLAIM: Cut government spending and encouraged more financial transparency

DECEPTIVE.  As for cutting the government spending, instead of cutting spending Senator Sturch keeps voting for increased spending. Earlier this year he voted FOR an increase in the state’s general revenue budget of $175.1 million which brings the budget to a total of $6.02 billion in the coming fiscal year. (SB101 of Fiscal Session 2022)

To be fair, all 35 state Senators voted for the increased budget. But his vote must be pointed out here because Senator Sturch is claiming he cut government spending which has not happened.

5. CLAIM: Voted Pro-Life 100% of the time


6. CLAIM: Protected gun rights and has kept an A rating with the NRA

TRUE. At the time of publication of this article the NRA’s scorecard for Arkansas hasn’t come out for this year but it is likely that Senator Sturch along with all other Republican legislators will get an A rating.


Senator Sturch’s mailer proclaims he is a “Trusted Conservative Leader” and has a Record of “Effective Conservative Leadership.” Making false and deceptive claims is not exactly a trust builder or the mark of a leader.

We remind you of an incident in 2017. A bill was filed to stop local governments from using the shameful practice of calling special elections to pass tax increases because they know taxes tend to pass in special elections when voter turnout is low and have a harder time of passing when there is a good voter turnout. Senator Sturch voted for the bill and the bill appeared to pass but the vote was challenged, which meant each of the “Yes” votes had to be in their seats to affirm their vote. Sturch looked at his phone, talked to seat mates, and realized his vote was going to be the deciding vote in passing the bill. So, he got up and left the chamber just before his name was called which he knew meant his vote would be stricken and the bill would fail by one vote. Does a “trusted leader” vote to pass a bill and then scurry out the door to kill the bill so he won’t be the deciding vote. What do you think? (See the video frequently referred to as the Sturch Lurch HERE.)

The false claim about stopping the teaching of critical race theory is especially concerning because it could cause parents to have a false sense of security about stopping racist indoctrination in schools.

Question candidates about their claims. Question their records.

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