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Ethics complaint filed against Arkansas secretary of state candidate Eddie Joe Williams

Claim says Williams visited Capitol with campaign signs by Rachel Herzog | April 27, 2022 at 3:43 a.m.
FILE - A view of the Arkansas State Capitol building, looking west.

A complaint submitted to the Arkansas Ethics Commission earlier this month alleges Republican secretary of state candidate Eddie Joe Williams violated state law by displaying campaign literature on his vehicle on state Capitol grounds.

Aaron Conrad, a Benton resident, confirmed by phone Tuesday that he submitted the April 7 complaint obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which includes photos of a vehicle with Williams' campaign logo parked outside the state Capitol purportedly taken on two different days, Feb. 22 and March 1. In one, the vehicle is parked in a space marked as reserved for Arkansas State Police.

Ethics Commission Director Graham Sloan said he could not confirm or deny the existence of such a complaint because the agency is required by state law to keep pending matters confidential.

Conrad said he is a Democrat and has no affiliation with any campaign in the secretary of state's race. He said he became aware of the vehicle being parked on Capitol grounds through political circles he is involved in and decided to complain because he views Williams' claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election as hypocritical when he is not following a law that passed while the former state senator was in the Arkansas Legislature.

"He's going around the state claiming the election was fraud, but he doesn't even follow his own ethics laws that he voted for," Conrad said.

Act 1280 of 2015 bans the display of campaign literature larger than 12-by-12 inches on a vehicle belonging to the candidate or public official while on state Capitol grounds. The law states the fine for violating that section shall not exceed $150.

The Legislature's website shows that Williams, a state senator from 2011-17, voted for the legislation.

Asked about the complaint, Williams said by phone Tuesday he recalled having to go to the Capitol to file a form in person and that having the campaign logo on Capitol grounds was an honest mistake.

"You drive a car with a campaign sign on it, you forget it's back there," he said.

He added that he had trouble finding a spot because it was during the fiscal session, so he had checked with Arkansas State Police to make sure they didn't need the spot and that he was in and out quickly.

Asked about the complaint's claim that it happened multiple times, Williams said that was the only time it happened that he remembered.

"I hope and pray in my lifetime that's the worst I ever do," he said. "I forgot. It won't happen again. I apologize."

Williams is challenging incumbent Secretary of State John Thurston for the GOP nomination in the May 24 primary. Early voting begins May 9.

The winner will face the Democratic nominee, either Anna Beth Gorman or Josh Price, in the general election in November.

Print Headline: Complaint filed against hopeful in state election


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