WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) - The woman who lost the Arkansas State House primary because of a fraudulent election spoke exclusively to ABC24 News. Kim Felker lost the May 2011 District 54 Democratic primary to Hudson Hallum.
Hallum admitted Wednesday to conning people, offering free chicken dinners, cigarettes, and limo rides in exchange for their absentee ballots. He and others would also destroy ballots choosing his opponents. Only 8 votes separated Felker and Hallum. He had more than 400 absentee votes to Felker's mere 69. She knew it wasn't a coincidence.
“Because it was so close we kept thinking all we needed were eight more votes, all we needed were eight more votes; but now it's clear it didn't matter what we did,” said Felker.
Felker told a prosecutor about the voting irregularities which led to a federal investigation and ultimately Hallum's guilty plea on Wednesday, September 5. The Arkansas Democratic Party confirmed Hallum’s resignation. West Memphis Police officer Sam Malone, also involved in the fraud, quit on Tuesday but West Memphis City Councilman Phillip Carter has not. Carter pleaded guilty to voter fraud but has not given up his seat and residents want him out.
"He needs to resign. He's as guilty as the other ones,” said West Memphis voter Cathy Caldwell.
Carter has been on the council for 8 years. He was also on Hudson Hallum’s campaign payroll. Hallum, his father Kent Hallum, Carter and Malone are all now convicted felons. The four men pleaded guilty in a conspiracy to bribe voters to influence absentee votes. A special prosecutor from the state is still investigating and says more people may be indicted as early as next week. Crittenden County election officials say Green Party candidate Fred Smith will take his place.
Carter did not show up to Thursday’s council meeting with the mayor. ABC24 News paid him a visit but wasn't home. He also refused to speak with me over the phone. Who can blame him, he's facing up to 5 years in prison.
On page 7 of the Eastern Arkansas District Attorney’s indictment Hallum told 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." Arkansas District Attorney Jane Duke says Carter used the same “absentee ballot strategy” in other state and federal elections. In the investigation Councilman Carter said "folk gonna vote for whoever pay them."
West Memphis police officer Sam Malone ended his career on Tuesday, one day before he pleaded guilty too. He was an officer for 5 years and on Hallum's payroll. Crittenden County lawmaker Hubert Bass was friends with Malone.
"We know that the money trail goes back to Justice Lorenzo Parker, goes back to Justice Eric Cox, they are also listed as money men for Hudson Hallum,” said Bass.
The West Memphis mayor says Carter has not resigned but if he does it'll be up to the city council to fill his seat. The mayor refused an on camera interview but says he's shocked and disappointed. Hallum's father, Kent, spoke with ABC24 News on the phone and said he and his son are both "extremely remorseful."