Rep. Butch Wilkins’ truck was seen in front of the Bono, AR polling place on the day of the run-off election June 12, 2012. His truck appears to be within 100ft of the polling entrance and is marked “Re-Elect Butch Wilkins”. The question has now been raised. Does this violate Arkansas statute 7 and qualify as electioneering? The ATU network received a press release from Rep. Wilkins’ opponent in the November election. Mr. John Cooper had this to say.
“There is nothing as important to the validity of the election process as basic fairness…….. Yesterday, I received a call from a citizen that my opponent, Representative Butch Wilkins was engaged in electioneering activities at the Bono polling place which appeared to be in violation of Arkansas statute 7-1-103. (9) (A) No election official acting in his or her official capacity shall do any electioneering on any election day or any day on which early voting is allowed. Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(9)(B) and (C) of this section, no person shall hand out or distribute or offer to hand out or distribute any campaign literature or any literature regarding any candidate or issue on the ballot, solicit signatures on any petition, solicit contributions for any charitable or other purpose, or do any electioneering of any kind whatsoever in the building or within one hundred feet (100′) of the primary exterior entrance used by voters to the building containing the polling place on election day.
Specifically, Mr. Wilkins was loitering inside the polling station and had his campaign advertisements in close proximity to voters coming and going. It appears that he had been there for an extended period of time. Specifically, his campaign vehicle was parked in the number one parking slot closest to the door which was non-handicapped. He may have also been wearing his campaign cap. I have photos of his parked vehicle.
I am asking the prosecuting attorney to investigate and deal with this issue in accordance with this statute or any other…..John Cooper Candidate for District 59 State Representative”
On Wednesday June 13, Paul Harrell of the Paul Harrell Program briefly covered the above press release which produced a phone call from a listener and poll worker from the previous day’s election. The poll worker, who will go un-named for now, described a similar incident that took place at another polling location in Cash, AR. The caller said Rep. Butch Wilkins loitered around the Cash polling place for a couple of hours wearing a “re-elect Butch Wilkins” hat.
The ATU Network reached out to Rep. Wilkins via the telephone and obtained an audio recording of the conversation. The audio reveals a couple of things.
1. Butch Wilkins admits he was at the Cash polling place and not voting.
2. Rep. Wilkins claims he spoke with “Todd” at the ethics commission. During our investigation we spoke with Todd Elder, Staff Attorney at the Arkansas Ethics Commission and he said at no time did he ever speak with Rep Wilkins or give him the information that his actions were permitted under Arkansas law as he claims during the phone conversation.
3. During our investigation we did speak to Graham F. Sloan the director of the Arkansas Ethics Commission. He told us he had spoken to Rep. Wilkins sometime after the run-off election this past Tuesday June 12. Director Sloan said he made it clear to Rep. Wilkins the Arkansas Election Commission is the best place for his inquiries and that his questions about election laws are out of the ethics commission’s jurisdiction. Director Sloan also told me that he did give Rep. Wilkins some unofficial advise that when a person is engaged in electioneering it did not matter whether his name is on the ballot or not. So it appears Rep. Wilkins sought the admittedly meaningless opinion of the ethics commission after the possible election law violation took place, and he is claiming the ethics commission told him that hanging around polling places is ok as long as your name is not on the ballot.
4. We have another report from John Cooper saying Rep. Wilkins was also loitering around the Bono polling place as well.
You can listen to the Answer to Us Network exclusive audio today on the Paul Harrell Program. It will be made available on the website after today’s broadcast.