Arkansas voters in Crittenden County are taking to the polls Tuesday to fill a State House seat vacated by a former Harlem Globetrotter who was convicted of theft. A state police investigation is also underway into allegations of voter fraud.
Because of the fraud allegations, the state election commission sent down a poll monitor from Little Rock for the election. Not only are state police investigating voter fraud, an ethics complaint has been filed against the democratic candidate, Leroy Grant, III.
Before the May Democratic primary for the vacated District 54 House seat, Grant allegedly left a voice message for Democratic candidate Kim Felker. According to documents obtained by FOX13, Grant's message said, "Are you running for State Representative? If you are I got something you probably would need, I've got some absentee ballots over here in West Memphis in Wards 4 and 5." Felker lost the Primary by 8 votes.
Grant stated to FOX13 that he did nothing wrong, and the message on Felker's machine was blown out of proportion. He said a man who worked for Felker's opponent, Democrat Hudson Hallum, paid him a couple hundred dollars to hand out Hallum campaign literature. While he was doing that, he said he ran across a lot of people who said they were voting for Felker and he wanted to give Felker their contact information. He added state police have not talked with him yet.
Tuesday the Republican Party of Arkansas filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission against Hallum for filing an incomplete finance report. The Republican Communications Director, Katherine Vasilos, questions why $50,000 in spent campaign funds was not itemized.
Hallum's camp called the move a distraction campaign by Republicans. Although they admit they missed the campaign finance filing deadline, they say they mailed it to the Secretary of State's office Monday as soon as they realized the "oversight".
Democratic freshman Representative Fred Smith vacated the District 54 seat in January after he was convicted of felony theft. The charge stemmed from a state audit that found the Dermott School District issued a duplicate payment of more than $29,000 to Smith's non-profit group and both payments were cashed.
The seat is traditionally Democrat, but there's a former Democrat-turned-Independent running who may divide those votes.