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Common Ground AR – The left’s effort to elect RINOS

Democrats, like any known “Progressives,” aren’t going to win many races in Arkansas. That is why the left has turned its attention to recruiting and electing left leaning candidates on the Republican ticket. This effort is spearheaded in Arkansas by “Common Ground AR.” Similar left-wing efforts have arisen in some other Republican dominated states under different names.


Common Ground AR says it “supports leaders who put good ideas and the good of Arkansans ahead of partisanship.” Common Ground would like you to think political gridlock in Arkansas is keeping good ideas from passing. Gridlock has nothing to do with Arkansas politics. Unlike Congress where little gets done because Congress is nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, the Arkansas legislature is more than three-fourths Republican, yet too often we get blue results in our red state because some legislators ignore their promises in favor of following woke corporate donors.

One of Common Ground’s catch phrases is “Ideas over Ideology.” That might sound appealing until you think about it.  With Arkansas being heavily Republican the only ideology the organization wants to ignore is the Republican platform and principles, which are the promises Republicans make to voters. (Click here for the full Principles and Platform of the Republican Party of Arkansas.)

Common Ground (like their friend, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce) wants to elect corporate sponsored RINOS who will ignore the principles and ignore specific promises in the platform. Instead of a true conservative, Common Ground wants someone who will work for bigger government, corporate welfare, and who is willing to accept liberal social policies pushed by woke corporations.  The irony is that while they work for bigger government and less individual freedom, they use the catch word “conservative” while campaigning for election.

You only need to look at the statements and actions of the officers of Common Ground AR to see the ideology the organization supports – a strong left-wing bias. It is obviously a progressive left organization.


Misty Orpin – Executive Director Common Ground AR

  • Marketing and Co-Owner (with husband) of Black Apple Hard Cider – Springdale, AR
  • Said, “I always listen to Rachel Maddow; that’s the one I stay up with the news.” [i]
  • Said reading – Stacy Abrams, Sonia Sotomayor
  • Founder of, an advocacy organization to increase information to Arkansans to increase fear of COVID 19 while advocating for increased mandatory face masking.
  • Anti-2nd Amendment – was sad to see the stand your ground law run during session.
  • Former “journalist” with liberal news organization
  • Communications and Economic Development for U. Arkansas – with Stacy Leeds; praises her – (Leeds is proudly a far left “feminist” and former dean of the U. Arkansas School of Law.)
  • Praised and promoted by left leaning state-wide Arkansas news media:


Board members who are politicians or lobbyists

  1. LeAnne Burch (D)- Board Member
  • Democrat former state representative (Nov 2016 – Jan 2021)
  • Lead House sponsor of legislation to allow Planned Parenthood sex education classes in Arkansas schools (SB304 of 2019).
  • Repeatedly voted against Pro Life legislation: against ban on abortion based on the sex of the child, voted “present” on ban of dismemberment abortions, voted against ban on using public funds for abortions for women in state custody, voted against prohibiting abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, did not vote for prohibiting abortion based on down syndrome diagnosis, voted against increased regulations in abortion clinics and protecting women, voted against increased penalties for physician assisted suicide.
  • Repeatedly voted against fiscal conservative issues: Voted against school choice. Voted for several tax increases, including: for internet sales tax paid by Arkansas consumers, for gas and diesel fuel tax increase, for $300 million tax increase proposal, for cell phone tax increase, for water bill increase, for tire tax increases. Voted against unemployment tax cuts.
  • Her campaigns were bankrolled by Democrat politicians and activists, healthcare industry special interests, and establishment big government PACs from Little Rock.
  1. Davy Carter- Board Member
  • Ran for the House of Representatives as a Republican representing the Cabot area. Served from 2008-2015.  Elected Speaker of the House with all 49 Democrats in the House voting for Carter along with eight Republicans to give him a narrow victory. (See Davy Carter & the Common Ground Left)
  • After being elected Speaker, Carter rewarded Democrats by:
    • Appointing several Democrats to chair important House Committees.
    • Taking a leading role in helping Democrats pass the largest increase in government spending, welfare, and dependency in Arkansas history (Obamacare Medicaid Expansion);
    • Going to House committees and telling then to quit working on bills on conservative social issues;
    • Refusing to help Republicans challenge Democrats in the next election; and
    • Endorsing and helping raise funds for Democrats.
  • Anti-Trump, big government, establishment. Supports Liz Cheney and her crusade against President Trump
  • Social media
    • Recently Liked social media posts siding with Disney in the attacks to promote transgender and LGBT indoctrination in pre-k through 3rd grade in Florida.
    • On social media continues to like the Lincoln Project (a radical organization of former Republicans who have repeatedly fostered pedophilia, grooming, and sexual assault within their organization).
    • Recently liked social media posts promoting banning Republican members of Congress because of their conservative political positions. Seems to be silent on anything from “The Squad” including AOC.
    • On social media liked posts calling conservative Republican members of Congress “clowns” for speaking out against Biden’s policies.
    • Liked a tweet from radical liberal blogger Max Brantley (Arkansas Blog) when saying Joe [Biden] is good and that the reason people don’t think so is because of Fox News.
    • Liked post about Governor Asa Hutchinson denouncing Trump
  1. Jim Hendren- Founder-Board Member
  • State Senator from NWA
  • Former Republican now Independent.
  • Rose to leadership thanks to the coat tails of his uncle, Governor Asa Hutchinson
  • As senator he worked against the Republican platform by expanding government and sponsoring tax increases. Used falsehoods to pass legislation he sponsored to protect Obamacare Medicaid Expansion and Obamacare Exchanges.
  • Left the Republican Party after no one took him seriously as a Republican candidate for Governor because of his liberal voting record.
  • Mocks Republicans and votes with Democrats against GOP issues.
  • Was chosen by the left to be the face of Common Ground AR and the official founder.
  • See his voting record and deceptions in our article – Sabotage, Lies, and Liberal Voting Record – Sen. Jim Hendren
  1. George McGill – Board Member
  • Former Democrat member of Arkansas House of Representatives from Fort Smith; served from 2013-2018.
    • Currently mayor of Fort Smith, AR[ii]
  1. Nate Steel– Board Member
  • Former Democrat member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for his hometown district, Nashville, AR (2011-2014).
  • Ran as a Democrat for Attorney General against Republican Leslie Rutledge in 2014
  • Current lawyer and lobbyist.
  • Little Rock; Attorney–Steel, Wright, Gray, PLLC
  • Former law partner to former Sen Jeremy Hutchinson (nephew to Governor Asa Hutchinson) who was convicted of fraud and bribery while a state senator. 
  1. Archie Schaffer III– Board Member
  • Lobbyist[iii]
  • Well known Democrat from NWA AR
  • Consultant and Retired EVP, Tyson Foods
  • Nephew to Dale Bumpers, the “liberal lion”.
  • Pardoned by Democrat, President Bill Clinton, after being convicted for illegal gifts to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Espy.[iv]

The Other Four Board Members

  1. Veronica Gromada – Board Member
  • Former Walmart attorney/litigator
  • Now works at major law firm to defend large corporations against tort claims made by individuals-saying she can be more proactive in helping large corporations be a good citizen of the society and of the planet as she works within her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. (See Interview about change of jobs)
  1. Mark Isbell – Board Member
  • North Little Rock; Partner, Isbell Farms
  • 4th Generation Rice Farmer
  • Board Member of Ag Heritage Farm Credit Services
  • Adjunct Professor, UALR
  • Known to favor progressive/liberal ideology
  1. Andy McNeill -Board Member
  • Russellville; CEO–Denali Water Solutions CEO of a waste company handling residuals from food processors, municipal plants, restaurants, and oil & gas exploration and production wells (eco-businesses.)
  • Lost his bid for Russellville City Alderman in 2018 to Mark Tripp
  • Served as chairman of Government Relations-Russellville Chamber of Commerce and board member of Chamber affiliateRussellville Regional Economic Development Alliance Board
  • Known to favor progressive/liberal ideology.

10. Sam T.  Sicard – Board Member

  • Fort Smith; President and CEO, First National Bank of Fort Smith
  • 4th Generation Banker
  • Board Member of Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce[v]
  • Mike Beebe appointee in 2013 to Visions 2025 Legislative Commission
  • Influential in US Marshalls’ museum project
  • Known to prefer progressive/liberal ideology.


Since the election of Donald Trump, there have been rejected/dejected Republicans in Arkansas join Democrats and US Senator Mitt Romney to move Arkansas away from Republican platform policies. Our footnotes include quotes from four anti-Trump ex-Arkansas legislators.  Reading these quotes, along with the history of these particular ex-legislators, is very telling about the true nature and purpose of Common Ground—to rid Arkansas of its hope for economic freedom and increased individual freedoms.  (See Conduit News for information on ex-legislators such as: )


Common Ground (along with its partners at the State Chamber of Commerce) serves the interest of woke corporations. In 2021 big woke corporations successfully lobbied the legislature to not pass legislation that would have banned racist indoctrination of school children through programs such as Critical Race Theory. Woke also support the sexualization of school children and also tried to stop legislation which prohibits chemical castration of children and other gender altering procedure on children. They lost that fight, and the ban was passed but their fight has now gone to the courts.

Common Ground (like the State Chamber) also serves the interest of corporations that want big government programs to create more business for them at taxpayer expense. They also want a bigger slice of taxpayer funds in the form of grants (giveaways) and tax breaks to add to their bottom line and help them have an advantage against Arkansas small business. They defend these giveaways despite economists criticizing some of these programs as not providing a benefit to Arkansans.


So far the two primary roles of Common Ground have been: 1) to recruit big government left leaning candidates to run as Republicans against conservative candidates who have a true conservative legislative voting record which agrees with the Republican platform and its principles, and 2) to partner with the State Chamber to line up campaign donors representing big corporations who want more corporate welfare and corporate donors who embrace a woke ideology which thinks of any conservative legislation as bad for business.

Common Ground has recruited candidates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will publicly endorse candidates. Why? Because Common Ground’s disguise as middle of the road is thin and that is not helpful to candidates running in the Republican primary.

You will have to listen to and question candidates to try to get a straight answer (detailed answers) to find out whether a candidate stands with the promises of the Republican Party or with the fake conservativism of Common Ground and their friends at the State Chamber.

A candidate’s words may sound nice but there is no substitute for reviewing how a politician voted on issues.  If the candidate served in the Arkansas legislature you can find out how the candidate voted in 2021 by looking at the Conduit for Commerce 2021 Scorecard. You may also want to look on Conduit News to see if the candidate has done an interview to discuss the candidate’s positions. You might also want to check Conduit News to see if the candidate has been the subject of a Platform Heroes article or an Ignoring the Platform article.  Also find out who were the big campaign donors to the candidate in 2020 by reviewing Conduit for Commerce’s Follow the Money Report.







“Meeks, who served eight years as a Republican representative from Conway, said ….

“I basically consider myself a Republican in exile at this point and hope that through this group that we can again turn the tide or turn the conversation back to where it needs to be,” he said.

[Nate] Bell said the group’s purpose is, “The Republican Party will return to its founding principles … the principles of conservatism, and if they don’t, we’re making preparations to prepare an alternative.”

[Bruce] Maloch, the lone Democrat [defeated in 2020 by a conservative Republican] among the state’s signatories, said he agreed with the group’s founding principles.

“I just don’t see how anybody can disagree with those,” he said. “Truth, ethics, civil responsibility, opportunity – I agree with those principles and think that’s what both parties ought to work toward.”

Among the more than 150 signatories were former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who opposed Trump in the Republican Party primary in 2020 but won only 2% of the vote in Arkansas; White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci; and George Conway, the husband of former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway.[v]

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