State Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, admitted acting unacceptably aggressive toward his opponent after a candidate forum Tuesday night. He apologized in a statement issued today.
Dawn Clemence of Fayetteville, his Republican opponent for state Senate District 4 seat, described the account of the beginning of the confrontation in Leding's apology as a lie. Leding was not responding to comments she made after the forum, she said.
Video of the event shows Leding going up on stage, standing close to Clemence, following her closely as she tries to step aside and then at least two steps back, pointing his finger and putting his hand on her shoulder before abruptly leaving.
Leding's statement says, in part: "I've worked very hard to serve all the people who live in the district I represent -- work that has consistently included legislation and advocacy for women, teachers, students, firefighters, working families, and more -- and that work's been misrepresented in this campaign. I was frustrated, but it's not acceptable to act on that. I apologize to Mrs. Clemence."
Clemence described Leding's statements to her during the encounter as uninterpretable and vulgar, and an unsuccessful attempt to intimidate her after the forum at the University of Arkansas last night.
The incident was captured on video, but audio was poor. Clemence said the video was taken from the Leding campaign's own live stream of the event, which Leding confirmed. It was posted on social media, including the state Republican Party's Facebook page. She said audio files are being cleaned up technically and will be released shortly.
"I think all women should be believed, including this conservative woman," Clemence said in a statement, echoing earlier remarks by Leding in support of the "Me Too" movement against harassment of women.
"I am aware that you issued a statement" of apology, Clemence said her statement. "I would remind you that I do have your Facebook Live feed and audio. That is [a] bold faced lie. Unprovoked, you were pointing your finger and yelling at me, using vulgar language, intimidating me, blocking me and threatening me."
Another video of Democrat State Representative Greg Leding’s aggressive behavior toward Dawn. As you can see, he keeps moving into her personal space and aggressively hits her shoulder when she stands up to him. #arpx #arleg #ARNews #ARSenate pic.twitter.com/QZKyeDb2pC— Trent Garner For Senate (@Garner4Senate) October 24, 2018