On Wednesday, the Arkansas Times reported on allegations of a threat made by Republican Treasurer candidate Dennis Milligan, the current Saline County Clerk and former Arkansas GOP chairman, towards his rival in the primary race, Rep. Duncan Baird of Bentonville.
According to the Times report, Milligan came into receipt of video and Capitol police reports showing Baird and several other legislators at the capitol late at night during the recent special session where they asked and were subsequently denied access to the roof by capitol police.
One police report suggested that the group seeking roof access “had possible issues of steadiness,” but the video does not appear to confirm that.
The Times asked Milligan for a statement on the allegation that he sought Baird’s exit from the race on the basis of the reports.
Milligan denied that he pushed for Baird to drop out of the Treasurer’s race. He says he shared the information with Baird to alert him to his enemies and their efforts to undermine his candidacy.
“If Baird’s critics will tell me of incidents like this, they will not stop there. I had not completed my opposition research and I wanted to see what he had to say about that night first hand. However, at no time in our conversation did I ask him to get out of the race,” Milligan told the Times.
On Thursday, Baird issued the following statement contradicting Milligan’s response:
Yesterday, in response to press inquiries, Dennis Milligan stated, “However, at no time in our conversation did I ask him to get out of the race.” This is a false statement.
Last Thursday, my opponent called me and told me he had “damaging” information that I needed to know about. He said we couldn’t discuss the information on the phone and we needed to meet in person to determine what was going to happen.
When we met later that day, Milligan told me “Here’s the bottom line, you’re finding a new career, you’re not gonna run for state treasurer. Ok. Unless you want to see this on the 7:00 news.” As I left, he told me to let him know within a couple of hours if I changed my mind about running for Treasurer.
Holding office is a public trust. A public official must always be honest with the public and the press. Dennis Milligan stated that he never told me to get out of the race for State Treasurer, and that is a false statement.
Furthermore, Milligan told me when we met, “If you call me within a couple of hours, we’ll find you something else to do,” which in my opinion was an attempt to offer something if I dropped out of the race. This would be a highly inappropriate conduct on the part of Mr. Milligan. Given the recent misconduct that occurred in the Treasurer’s office, voters have a right to expect those who seek their vote to be honest and to conduct themselves properly.
I believe the campaign for State Treasurer should be about the issues. For example, a reform proposal, SB838, was offered to fix the problems in the Treasurer’s office. I supported the reform proposal, but Mr. Milligan opposed it. He described the bill as “bad legislation”, saying “Under this bill I have to ask, ‘Why do we even need a treasurer if this passes?” according to quotes in an Arkansas News Bureau article.
Rather than discuss issues, Mr. Milligan wants to engage in political tricks and then be dishonest about it when challenged. Dennis Milligan’s conduct, dishonesty and opposition to reform of the Treasurer’s office are a clear contrast to my legislative record and how I conduct myself in public office.