A Democratic state representative from Arkansas' Delta pleaded guilty Wednesday, along with his father and two city officials, to federal charges of conspiracy to commit voter fraud.
The four men who admitted manipulating absentee voter ballots and votes are Rep. Hudson Hallum, D-Marion, Kent Hallum, West Memphis City Councilman Phillip Wayne Carter and West Memphis Police Officer Sam Malone, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock.
A Democratic Party spokeswoman said Hallum indicated he would step down from his seat, but Gov. Mike Beebe had not received a formal resignation by Wednesday afternoon.
Hallum didn't respond to phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment, and House Speaker Robert Moore said he has not heard from the lawmaker. But in an email sent to other Democratic legislators, Hallum apologized for his actions.
"I took some bad advice that led to some bad decisions on my part. I am going to stand up and accept full responsibility for my actions," Hallum wrote. "I am truly sorry because I know this news will have an effect on everyone's upcoming race."
The District 54 seat was vacated in January 2011 after Fred Smith, D-Crawfordsville, was convicted of theft. Hallum then won the seat in a special election by defeating Kim Felker by 8 votes in a runoff held May 10, 2011. News reports at the time said Felker had reported suspicious absentee voting to the prosecuting attorney.
In an unannounced hearing, the men waived their right to be indicted by a grand jury and pleaded guilty to a single charge. The information — the term used to refer to charged filed directly by federal prosecutors rather than by a grand jury — described multiple acts, including buying meals in exchange for absentee votes.
Click here (PDF) for the plea information, and here (PDF) for the news release.
According to the release, each of the men acknowledged participating in "a conspiracy to bribe voters to influence absentee votes in the Arkansas District 54 primary, its runoff election, and the general election," held between February and July 2011.
"In a nation in which every person's vote matters, protecting the integrity of the electoral process from those who seek to win office by cheating the system is critical," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Duke said in a news release.
"Voter fraud schemes such as that carried out in the 2011 District 54 race have the devastating effect of eroding public confidence in elected officials and disenfranchising voters."