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Former Arkansas senator found dead

Linda Collins Smith

POCAHONTAS, Ark. — A former Arkansas senator has been found dead at a home in Pocahontas, Arkansas.

According to the Arkansas State Police, Linda Collins-Smith was discovered deceased on the evening of Tuesday, June 4.

At the beginning of the investigation, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler declined to identify the victim and said the state medical examiner may confirm the identity of the remains later Wednesday. The agency released a statement on Thursday confirming the remains were Collins-Smith’s.

Property records show the home belonged to Collins-Smith, 57, and her ex-husband, retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith. The state GOP also tweeted Tuesday night that Collins-Smith had died.

The state crime lab was determining the cause and manner of death, police said.

Her former press secretary Ken Yang told KFSM neighbors heard gunshots several days before her body was discovered. He also stated that her body was found wrapped in a blanket.

That information has not been confirmed by officers.

Collins-Smith served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. But she switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, the year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature.

“I have not changed. I have not left the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me,” she said at a news conference announcing the party switch. Before running for the House, she had served on the state Ethics Commission.

She was elected to the state Senate in 2014 and was one of the most conservative lawmakers in the majority-GOP chamber. She clashed frequently with GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson over the state’s Medicaid expansion and other issues, including a bathroom bill she proposed in 2017.

Collins-Smith dropped her proposal , which would have prohibited individuals from using bathrooms in government buildings that do not match their gender at birth, after it failed to advance past a Senate committee.

Collins-Smith was defeated in her bid for re-election in the 2018 Republican primary.

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