In the end, his legal residence didn’t get him removed from office, but a legal matter did.
Rep. Fred Smith, D-Crawfordsville, the state representative who survived a state Claims Commission ruling and House caucus vote on whether or not he was qualified for the seat he won, will step down.
Smith defeated claims that he was not an Arkansas resident in getting installed in the District 54 House seat, but still had charges pending against him in a theft case where his non-profit organization, Save Our Kids, had been accused of cashing an extra payment from the Dermott School District. Smith said the matter was a bookkeeping error and had pleaded innocent to the charge.
However, yesterday Circuit Judge Sam Pope ruled that Smith was guilty of the charges.
Smith resigned his seat today and issued the following statement:
"Based on the ruling of January 25, 2011, about which I have recently learned, I have submitted my resignation to the Speaker of the House, effective immediately. I would like to thank the People of District 54 for the opportunity to serve in the Arkansas House of Representatives. While my decision is difficult, this is in the best interest of District 54, the General Assembly and my family. I respectfully disagree with the ruling. After consultation with my attorney, I intend to appeal this decision and clear my good name."
His resignation led House Speaker Robert Moore to also issue a statement:
"I am in receipt of the letter of resignation from Rep. Fred Smith. It will be read tomorrow to Members of the House, placed in the Journal, and the Governor will be notified, as required by law (A.C.A § 10-2-119). Rep. Smith has released a statement, and I will let his statement speak to any media inquiries."
By law, a vacancy in seat will be declared and Gov. Mike Beebe will ask the state’s two political parties if they wish to hold a special convention or special election to fill the vacancy created by Smith’s resignation.