Dustin McDaniel: Relationship Did Not Compromise State Litigation

by Andrew DeMillo  on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 2:25 pm  

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel

Republican Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman, last week said that he also planned to run for governor next year. Several other Republicans are also considering a run. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and state Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter are considering running in the Democratic primary for governor.

Hutchinson said Tuesday he did not consider the relationship an issue in the governor's race.

"I would instruct anyone who worked on our campaign that would not be an issue in the campaign," he said. "We're focusing on economic development, improving education and other important issues for the state."

A spokesman for Halter said his decision on whether to join the race wouldn't be affected by McDaniel's admission.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat who is not running for re-election in 2014 because of term limits, earlier Tuesday said that admission would hurt McDaniel's campaign.

"Certainly it's not helpful to him and it certainly will have some effect," Beebe said in an interview broadcast on the Talk Business website. "The question is how does he handle it and how much will this continue in terms of publicity?"

McDaniel said last month he met Davis during his 2010 re-election bid and said in 2011 they had "limited interaction, some of which was inappropriate."

"I knew the minute that I did something inappropriate that I had made a mistake," McDaniel said.

McDaniel admitted to the relationship after Davis' ex-husband alleged a sexual affair between the two in court papers filed in a custody battle.

Davis was the opposing counsel in five cases handled by McDaniel's office, including a school choice lawsuit the state lost. McDaniel said his staff had no knowledge of his interaction with Davis, and said it did not affect the cases.

McDaniel said he and Davis never discussed the investigation into the death of Maxwell Anderson, who was found shot dead outside Davis' home in February.

An initial report by the Garland County Sheriff's Office lists Davis' brother, Matthew Davis, as a "suspect" who was present at the scene. State Police, who have taken over the investigation, won't say whether they have any suspects.

"I have no knowledge of the status of the investigation. The attorney general's office has no role or jurisdiction in this investigation, and I have never communicated with law enforcement about it," he said. "In short, I don't know anything about it."

McDaniel had repeatedly refused interview requests and has not made any public appearances since his campaign issued a statement from him last month admitting to the relationship. He's expected to speak at a Forrest City Chamber of Commerce event Thursday night and a spokesman said he would attend a fundraiser for his campaign Friday night in Hot Springs.

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