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Campaign ties told, 1 on vote panel exits

by Emily Walkenhorst | April 26, 2014 at 5:11 a.m.

The spokesman for the Arkansas secretary of state’s office resigned from the Pulaski County Election Commission on Friday after a blog revealed he had been Ann Clemmer’s congressional-campaign treasurer.

Hours later, a statement from Clemmer’s campaign released to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said the campaign’s “ volunteer treasurer” had been dismissed, citing “unauthorized disbursements” of campaign funds.

FEC filings listed Roland A. Reed as the campaign’s treasurer. Reed, who goes by Alex, appeared on 2nd Congressional District candidate Clemmer’s latest campaign-finance reports for her abandoned state Senate bid listed as “R A Reed.”

Reed called Pulaski County Election Director Bryan Poe just before 2 p.m. Friday and resigned as its Republican representative.

Reed said Friday that he was not involved in the Clemmer campaign when he joined the Election Commission on March 4 and that he knew it would be against the law. A spokesman for the Clemmer campaign said his name was taken off the campaign’s bank account April 14.

When informed that he was still listed as treasurer in the latest Federal Election Commission report and that the report states he had been involved financially in the campaign during his service on the Pulaski County Election Commission, Reed said he would look into it.

Staff members at the secretary of state’s office said no one was available Friday afternoon to answer questions regarding Reed.

Blue Hog Report, a blog run by Little Rock lawyer Matt Campbell, first reported Friday that Reed was listed as Clemmer’s treasurer in FEC filings. In addition, the blog noted that Reed lent $20,007.83 to the Republican’s campaign.

Campbell claimed that Reed’s involvement made him ineligible to be a Pulaski County election commissioner, citing Arkansas 7-4-109(c), which states:

“(1) A person who is a paid employee of a political party or of a candidate for office on that county’s ballot shall not be a member of a county board or an election official.

“(2) (A) Except as provided in subdivision (c)(2)(B) of this section, a person serving on the county board shall not participate in the campaign of a candidate listed on that county’s ballot or of a write-in candidate seeking election in that county.”

Clemmer, a state representative from Benton, originally announced that she would run for state Senate District 33 and then decided last year to run for Congress in the state’s 2nd District.

Secretary of state filings obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette indicate that Reed has been paid varying amounts for months from the Clemmer campaign for state Senate.

He was the only campaign worker listed in the latest report, for Feb. 1 to Feb. 28. He was paid $100 that month from campaign funds.

In addition, Reed received $9,524.21 in “unauthorized disbursements” from the Ann Clemmer for Congress campaign, according to an FEC filing dated April 15. Disbursements were made from Jan. 31 to March 29.

On March 31, the Clemmer campaign received a $20,007.83 loan from Reed, according to the FEC report, which also states that the loan has been paid back so far in the amount of $9,524.21, leaving $10,483.62 in outstanding balance on the loan.

That report says $20,007.83 was “repayment of unauthorized disbursements-Paid off on 4/15/14.”

Reed declined to comment Friday on the loan he gave the Clemmer campaign but said he would look at the finance report and call back to explain the connection between the loan the disbursements made to him. He did not return another message left later Friday.

Just after 6 p.m. Friday, the Clemmer campaign released a statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette stating: “During the preparation of our latest FEC report, we discovered that there were unauthorized disbursements. We took immediate corrective action, engaging counsel to help us take the proper steps and immediately removed our volunteer treasurer from the bank account. All funds have been returned, and we are currently in the process of filing the necessary paperwork with the FEC to name a new campaign treasurer. The individual who made the unauthorized disbursements is no longer affiliated with the campaign committee. I want to take full responsibility for the issues on our latest FEC report.”

Reed was the only person listed as receiving unauthorized disbursements from the campaign in its quarterly filing, which encompassed January through March.

Campaign spokesman Weston McKee said Friday that questions about Reed’s dismissal were answered in the statement.

When asked how long Reed was considered a volunteer for the campaign, considering he received payments until the end of February, McKee said he didn’t know.

McKee said the campaign’s comptroller wasn’t available Friday evening to answer questions about the unauthorized disbursals, the loan from Reed, the relationship between the two, or how the unauthorized disbursals were returned.

Reed served as a Pulaski County election commissioner for eight meetings since March 4, earning $800 for his service on the commission. Commissioners are paid $100 for each meeting, which includes the three poll-worker training sessions leading up to each election.

Poe said Reed’s departure should not substantially affect the commission because it has done all it needs to do before the May 20 primary, except for poll-worker training.

“I absolutely did not have any idea that he was involved with the Clemmer campaign,” he said, adding that the Election Commission doesn’t verify whether commissioners are legally able to serve.

Poe said that’s the job of the party committee that nominates someone to serve on the election commission.

“Whoever the party sends up, that’s who we take,” he said.

Pulaski County Republican Committee Chairman Vicky Arellanes released a statement late Friday saying the committee was unaware of Reed’s involvement in the campaign when he was put up for the Election Commission position and that he no longer represents the county Republican committee.

Reed said Friday that secretary of state office rules barring employees from participating in campaigns apply only to election division employees, which he is not. The rule is consistent with what Secretary of State Mark Martin pledged would be the case when he ran for office in 2010.

Front Section, Pages 1 on 04/26/2014

Print Headline: Campaign ties told, 1 on vote panel exits

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