Tolbert: Milligan Calls Meeting With Baird ‘Honorable’

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 161 views 

Dennis Milligan continued his media circuit Friday (Nov. 15) appearing again on The Paul Harrell Show, which airs in northeast Arkansas.

Yesterday’s interview occurred shortly before Harrell had heard the audio tapes of the meeting in which Milligan attempted to bully Baird out of the race.  Obviously, today’s interview was quite different as Harrell had this new information and seemed to have a done a 180 of his view on the whole incident.  I listened to the entire interview earlier on Harrell’s Ustream channel and transcribed many of the following exchanges.  You can also listen to the interview here from The Arkansas Project.

Harrell kicked off his half hour interview asking Milligan, “What evidence do you have that Rep. Duncan Baird did anything wrong?”

“Well, there are two things. I have an email from the capitol police that your readers need to go to read,” said Milligan who then promoted his campaign website for reading that information. “Also there is a video that confirms their entrance and it has times and date stamps that show the four legislators and the two unidentified women entering the capitol roughly around 1:43 am in the morning on October 18th.”

Harrell followed up by asking what exactly Milligan was saying Baird specifically had done wrong and whether he was implying some sort of guilt by association with others who may have been “unsteady,” according to the State Capitol Police reports.

“I think (Baird) may have been one of the ones that was considered to be unsteady,” said Milligan referring back to the previously mentioned email.

“There is an old saying, ‘There ain’t much good that can happen past midnight’ and that is kind of an old mom’s story,” continued Milligan (which oddly almost seems to be a quote from my blog post yesterday).  “For our elected leaders to be going to the state capitol at 1:43 am in the morning with unidentified females that is documented by an email from the capitol police to the chief of staff stating they are wanting to go to the dome of the capitol, that he expressed to them in the email that that was not a safe thing to do, that they had been issues. For one of them – and if it wasn’t Mr. Baird that said the statement to him – ‘We will get this rectified. We will go to your boss Secretary Martin and get this straightened out.’ If it wasn’t Duncan Baird, then he should have stood up to that poor policeman or whoever did say that to him.”

Harrell then pointed out that he might not have even been there when that happened.  Harrell then said, “You never asked him to get out of the race you say?”

“No,” replied Milligan.

Harrell followed up asking if he “acted appropriately in that meeting (with Baird)?”

“Absolutely. I stand by that meeting 100% because if you…and that is the problem we have had. The spin job that my opposition has done is they haven’t listened to the whole tape. When they listen to the whole tape…have you listened to the whole tape, Paul?”

“Yes sir. I listened to the entire 13 minutes,” said Harrell.

“Did you not listen to the part where it says ‘Duncan, I am not asking you to get out of the race. This is a request by other people to get out of the race’,” said Milligan.

Harrell pushes back saying, “What is the reality?  The reality is he felt pressured, according to him.”

“Well then let me ask you this – what substantiates my meeting with Duncan is the fact that I could have sat back because this information was going to get leaked to the press whether I did it or anybody did it. Quite frankly…again… listen to the tape, I told Duncan I wouldn’t release it.  And I did not. But the point is that I could have sat back and let all this happen. My intentions were honorable to meet with Duncan to let him be aware of the families of the people of everybody that was going be hurt,” said Milligan.

Harrell presses Milligan on how this meeting was protecting the families of these individuals.

“I was simply trying to pass that on to Duncan that he needed to think because these people – and I am speaking of the sources that tipped me off about these FOI – that if this message got out that it was going to be damaging to them and I could not… I mean I just did not think that was proper. I am the former chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas and certainly this is not good for our party,” said Milligan.  “There are a number of factors and Mr. Baird was completely unphased and cold about the fact that it could even have some effect on other people’s lives. And I certainly respect that.”

Harrell then reads a portion of the transcript where Milligan implies that it was improper for the two ladies in the video to be with the legislators.

“I am just saying that it certainly adds to the story that there is individuals there. That there is the potential there at least of the opinion of the capitol police that there is drinking going on, that there is actual individuals holding cups in their hand, they are wanting to go to the capitol dome, that’s….again Paul your listeners and the voters of Arkansas will make that determination if that is what they want of their leaders and they feel like that is being respectful to the state capitol, being respectful to the capitol police, then I am probably not their guy,” said Milligan.

Harrell asked if he knew Baird specifically had done anything wrong or if this was guilt by association.

“If you’re driving the getaway car, then you are as guilty as the man in there robbing the bank,” answered Milligan.

They go back and forth a bit and Harrell asks Milligan directly – “What would your definition of blackmail be? What would you have done for people who are speculating that blackmail or pressure to get out of the race?  I mean what would you have to have done to be kind of hanging this over somebody’s head in exchange for an unopposed primary?”

“I am not even going to use that word – Paul – because that’s not even…You’re talking about a crime there and if there is something that is a crime then that needs to be handled by the police,” said Milligan.

Harrell then played the portion of the tape where Milligan said, “Look, I’m not releasing this info. Other people have said. 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.” Harrell asked if Milligan “stands by that and it is an okay thing to do.”

“Absolutely, that’s an okay…I have no…you played it and that was there and Mr. Baird answered the question. Although when I did say what his wife would think about it, he did hesitate there just a little bit,” replied Milligan.

“I want to make it very clear – I am not getting out of the race. I have never considered it. I want to move on from it,” said Milligan.

Harrell asked Milligan what he has to say to average Arkansas who will hear the tapes of his meeting with Baird.

“Politics is not a short-legged or short pants game and unfortunately some things are different to people. That’s what probably makes it so interesting is that the people have different value systems, different ideas about what is acceptable. You know I am a little older guy. Maybe the younger people feel like being able to do those things that we stated earlier, maybe it is not as big a deal to them as it is to me and some of my constituents, but that’s just something that again will have to be decided a little down that line,” said Milligan.

“Look I am a big guy. In fact, somebody said to me – talking about Shoffner and pie – said it looked like Milligan liked pie too. You know what?  Exactly, I do,” said Milligan.

Milligan then tried hard to grab a lifeline by clinging to support from Little Rock radio host for KARN, Dave Elswick.

“Dave Elswick has completely exonerated me. He and his producer have  listened to the tapes and looked at the emails and I go on record as saying in a conversation with him and he will state it on Monday that he absolutely has no problem with my actions,” said Milligan.

I asked Elswick about this statement. He said he does plan to have Milligan on his show to discuss this on Monday afternoon and has invited Baird to come on, but Elswick tells The Tolbert Report he never said he would exonerate Milligan as he still has questions and needs some answers.

Side note – Bill Vickery appeared on KARK channel 4 today discussing the Milligan situation and received this text message from Milligan.  Vickery provided the text message and said it could be shared publicly:

“Bill had more confidence in u than what u showed me. Not fair with the facts at all. And I will follow up with my attorney about your comments cause I want all legal matters resolved including the one with the TV station, have a good night,” texted Milligan.

Vickery will appear as a guest on KARK’s “Capitol View” along with the Arkansas Times’ Max Brantley on Sunday at 8:30 am, so you might want to tune into that.