Four Crittenden County Men Plead Guilty to Bribing Voters
(Crittenden County, AR) A state representative, his father, a city councilman and a police officer have pleaded guilty to bribing voters in several elections in 2011.
After a Democratic primary, a special run-off and a general election, 29-year-old Hudson Hallum won the seat for Arkansas House District 54, to represent the cities of West Memphis, Marion, Earle and Turrell.
The U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas said Hudson Hallum, Kent Hallum, Phillip Wayne Carter and Sam Malone admitted to helping people fill out absentee ballots. They would check to make sure the ballots were for Hallum. The ballots for other candidates were destroyed.
Officials also said some families were paid $20 to $40, or given chicken dinners for their votes.
The statement from the U.S. attorney’s office also alleged that Hudson Hallum told Councilman Carter, “We need to use that black limo and buy a couple of cases of some cheap vodka and whiskey to get people to vote.”
The same press release said that two days later, Carter and Kent Hallum, the candidate’s father, spoke with someone in Memphis about getting a discounted price for 100 half pints of vodka for the campaign.
An opponent of Hallum’s contacted prosecutors to launch the investigation, after Hallum won a special run-off by only eight votes.
News Channel 3 contacted Phillip Carter, but he had no comment on the case.
Calls to Hudson Hallum were not returned.
Voter Machella Nelson said, “If he’s the better candidate, you shouldn’t have to pay. If someone is going to vote for you, they’re going to do it anyway regardless of whether you pay him or her or not.”
Other voters who know the Hallums personally said they are good people who probably got mixed up in the wrong activity.
Melvin Gowdy, who works at the Fred’s Store on Broadway, said Officer Sam Malone often visited the store and did a good job patrolling the area.
Gowdy remembers one incident when Malone helped arrest a suspected thief. But now, Malone is the one pleading guilty to a crime.
“I’m surprised. Because it seemed like he’d never do something like that,” Gowdy said.
But Nelson is not surprised at the corruption.
She said, “You should have a conscience. Something should matter at some point in time. If you want people to vote for you, we prefer honesty than dishonesty.”
The next step is for the four men to receive sentencing. This is the first known use of the Travel Act to bring charges for vote-buying in a purely local election. The Travel Act prohibits the use of mail in criminal activity.