Here is the email I sent to the Arkansas Ethical Commission. Contactus@arkansasethics.com
Good evening. I am writing to you today about possible ethical violations from many of our highest level public elected officials. In 2014 Senator Tom Cotton donated to Asa Hutchinson, John Thurston, and Leslie Rutledge through his campaign as well as his personal PAC “Rangers lead the way.”
These three elected officials are now helping him to suppress the ballot. Last year the state legislators, with instruction from Senator Cotton, changed the law to require third parties to need 3% of the voters’ signatures to gain ballot access. That rose the amount from 10,000 to over 26,000. This would have made it immensely more difficult for a third party to obtain ballot access.
The libertarian party sued the Secretary of State John Thurston, who uses AG Rutledge as his defense counsel. The libertarian party won their lawsuit, and it was appealed by the AG on behalf of John Thurston, which they lost their appeal in June of 2020. During the time that the Arkansas state legislators passed the higher signature requirement The GOP already had dirt on the democrat. They obtained this information in May of 2019, as publicly stated by Tom Cotton’s campaign manager last December.
The GOP attempted to keep third parties off the ballot while knowing they were going to blackmail the democrat out after the filing deadline. Their strategy was to make sure Senator Cotton was to run unopposed. The democrat was pocketing donations from his 2018 campaign and they knew this and issued a press release one hour after the filing deadline stating they were launching an FEC investigation into fraudulent FEC filings.
The democrat dropped out one hour later, and the threat of lawsuit was dropped as well. This is blackmail. As an independent candidate I had a fixed signature collection period from February 1 until May 1. As you are well aware this was the period when COVID-19 began to spread through America. On March 13 Governor Asa Hutchinson used orders of the state to issue an executive order placing Arkansas under a state of emergency, banning large gatherings, and implementing social distancing policy.
This affected 60% of our fixed collection period. We were only able to gather 6,514 signatures due to these orders of the state. I drafted a letter and 5/7 of the other independents running in our state signed it and sent it to Governor Asa Hutchinson. It asked for either a signature reduction, online petitioning, or an extension on the deadline. He ignored our letter, later stating in an interview that he gave it off to his legal counsel.
We then sent the letter to the Secretary of State John Thurston, certified, 3 times. He never responded so I reached out after 2 weeks. I was informed by his staff that he does not have the authority to grant relief. The next step was to take legal action. So, we sued the Secretary of State for ballot access. His defense counsel is AG Leslie Rutledge. The three prior mentioned individuals have taken money from my opponent Tom Cotton.
Our hearing was in the district courts on May 27, 2020. During this process, the defense counsel sent the judge motions to dismiss 5 times and was denied each time. After 4 weeks the Honorable Judge Baker gave us her 61-page ruling on June 24, 2020 stating that we do not have standing for preliminary injunctive relief. However, we do in fact have declaratory standing and that although COVID-19 did in fact affect our signature collection efforts that it was not a severe burden.
We appealed the ruling in the basis that we do have Declaratory standing and COVID-19 has obviously added a severe burden to nearly all aspects of our lives. We filed an expedite to our appeal so that our case can be completed before ballots are printed in late August, as COVID-19 has led to record amounts of absentee ballot requests. After 12 days, our motion unruled, the defense counsel submitted an opposition to our expedite, claiming there are more important cases to be heard and that COVID-19 did not severely burden our collection efforts.
A few days later United States Attorney General William Barr came to Arkansas and met with the following individuals: my opponent Senator Tom Cotton, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and possibly even Secretary of State John Thurston. A few days after this meeting the motion in opposition of our expedite was approved, not by a judge, but by an unarmed associate of an unnamed person. I found this information by calling the 8th circuit courts and talking directly to a clerk.
Thank you for taking the time to read this long email, but I find that it is extremely important to hold our elected officials to ethical standards. This is clear and purposeful ballot suppression and it is hurting the fair electoral process that we deserve as Arkansans, and Americans.