Last Thursday Feb. 2, on the Paul Harrell Program there was much discussion about a failed house bill, HB1887. This was a pro-life bill, and would have saved the lives of children after 20 weeks of fertilization. The bill failed in the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor, with 9 yes votes and 3 nays. There were at least two Representatives who did not vote, Rep. Gary Smith (D) Camden, and Rep. Butch Wilkins (D) Bono. This is significant because if the committee had carried 11 yes votes the bill would have passed.
During the broadcast Paul Harrell Program producer, Daniel Gary, attempted to contact Rep. Wilkins and received no answer but did leave a message inquiring why he decided to abstain when the time came to represent his constituents and invited him to be on the program to explain his reasons for not voting. Later that evening Rep. Wilkins called back and the conversation quickly devolved into an incoherent rant in which Rep. Wilkins accused us of trying to do an “ambush job” and being “unprofessional”.
The next day Rep. Wilkins called the ATU Network and again spoke with producer Daniel. When he inquired as to why our behavior was unprofessional, Rep. Wilkins proceeded to call Daniel a liar. Rep. Wilkins claimed Daniel had lied to him about another State Representative, Homer Lenderman declining to come on the Paul Harrell Program. If fact, Rep. Lenderman never formally declined, we just never heard back from him for what could be a plethora of reasons. So again the conversation quickly devolved into debating semantics not actual issues like protecting the unborn. The representative then told us his constituents “don’t really care what goes on in Little Rock” and he “doesn’t need our little program” because he is “going to get re-elected regardless”. Eventually, Daniel got Rep. Wilkins to admit that “if my name was called twice, then that means I was in the room (committee) and did not vote”. So we obtained audio evidence to support Rep. Wilkins’ claim. In fact Rep. Wilkins’ name is called twice on the video at 1:56:00. To be fair, Rep. Lenderman just did an hour long interview on the program and you can listen here.
On Friday Feb. 3rd Dan and I recounted the two conversations with Rep. Wilkins on the show and using the information given to us by Butch Wilkins we told our listeners he was in the room and did not vote on a bill that would have saved babies. We also urged our listeners to call Mr. Wilkins and tell him they do care what goes on in Little Rock.
The full recounting of the conversations can be heard at the 1:05:00 mark on this video:
Why did this controversy occur? I have been asking myself that question for a week now. What started as an honest phone call with an honest question in the name of accountability seemed to really upset Rep. Butch Wilkins, and since the conversations in question Rep. Wilkins is now bashing the ATU Network and continuing to call us liars.
On Tuesday Feb. 7th I interviewed Republican State Representative candidate John Cooper. It was a great interview where Mr. Cooper brought some alarming things to my attention concerning the fiscal solvency of Arkansas public employee retirement plans. You can listen to the interview here. Because of this interview I thought it would be fair to invite Rep. Wilkins on the show since these two men will be running against each other this November. The response I received as well as the initial invitation is below.
Rep. Wilkins is also calling his opponent in the 2012 elections a “Forrest Gump type”. See below.
Oh and here are a few more insults where he called Daniel a “fruitcake” and the both of us “radical” and “sick”. He also claims Democrats can’t be lumped into one group. “It’s like hearding cats” he said.
Daniel is a fruitcake.
We are both “radical” and “sick”
Dems are like “hearding cats” and he supports our rights to wear short sleeve t-shirts.
I have gone to the video archives and can confirm Rep. Wilkins’ contention. He was in the Judiciary committee on March 17 presenting a bill and we have made it clear to our audience we acted upon the information given to us directly from Rep. Wilkins. It seems he was mistaken. So that leads us to our next question. Why are representatives scheduled to speak for legislation at the same time politically contentious bills are being debated and voted on in other committees? Surely in the name of accountability there is a better and more equitable way to make sure the representatives of the people of Arkansas actually get to represent their constituents. But then again the initial phone call reaching out for comment was in the name of accountability, which seemed to stir up at least one of our elected officials who needs to remember he works for and answers to us.