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Large donor to Louisiana Republican Party caught up in Supreme Court controversy

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Large donor to Louisiana Republican Party caught up in Supreme Court controversy

Sep 14, 2023 | 12:20 pm ET
By Julie O'Donoghue
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Large donor to Louisiana Republican Party caught up in Supreme Court controversy
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The Louisiana Republican Party received $100,000 this year from Robin Arkley, a conservative donor caught up in a transparency scandal at the U.S. Supreme Court.

A significant donor to the Republican Party of Louisiana and Republican Attorney General candidate Elizabeth Murrill also played a pivotal role in the U.S. Supreme Court transparency scandal that broke earlier this year.

Mortgage company owner Robin Arkley has donated $100,000 to the state GOP over the past year. Arkley and his wife Cherie have also contributed $10,000 to Murrill’s campaign and $90,000 to the Safe and Free Louisiana political action committee (PAC), which is supporting Murrill’s election efforts, according to a review of campaign finance records.

Arkley was one of the sponsors of controversial vacations that Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia took separately to Alaska in 2008 and 2005, respectively, according to ProPublica. Scalia died in 2016. Alito, who is still on the court, didn’t divulge the Alaska trip to federal officials. 

Arkley owns a luxury fishing lodge in Alaska that normally costs guests $1,000 per night to rent. Alito slept there for no charge and never included the free lodging on financial disclosure forms required of the justices, according to ProPublica

Arkley hasn’t been involved in a case that came before Alito, but a billionaire hedge fund owner, Paul Singer, who flew the justice to Alaska on his private jet for the trip was. Alito did not recuse himself from several cases involving Singer that came before the court in the years after the vacation.  

Democratic senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, asked Arkley, Singer and conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo in July to turn over information about any vacations and gifts they have given Supreme Court justices. 

Arkley is a media fixture and local government gadfly in his hometown of Eureka, California, though his business, Security National Master Holding Co., LLC, is at least partially based in Baton Rouge. The Arkleys also have a house in Louisiana, according to California media reports.

In addition to Murrill, Arkley’s business contributed $5,000 in 2021 to another Republican candidate for attorney general, state Rep. John Stefanski of Crowley. Reps. Laurie Schlegel, R-Metairie ($5,000), and Dodie Horton, R-Haughton ($1,000),  also received donations.

Republican agricultural commissioner Mike Strain also got $10,000 from Arkley in 2007, when Strain first ran for statewide office.

Arkley is one of only a few donors who has given a significant amount of money to Murrill, but not contributed directly to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s gubernatorial campaign or Landry’s PACs.

Arkley’s large donation to the state Republican party may end up benefiting Landry though, because the party is financially supporting Landry’s bid for governor.

Arkley and Murrill’s campaign could not be reached for comment. Louis Gurvich, head of the state Republican party, did not respond to requests for comment.