Ken Blevins says it’s time to “drain the Sebastian County swamp.” The former Circuit Clerk who left office under a cloud of scandal has filed to run for the office of Sebastian County Judge held by incumbent David Hudson, and he did not hide feelings about his opponent.
“I’m running for this position because I want to get back into politics, and David Hudson interfered with my ability to be Circuit Clerk,” said Blevins, who was a Republican when he first ran for Circuit Clerk but filed as a Democrat in this election cycle. “He allowed false accusations of sexual harassment, which led to me not even wanting to return to that office, so I’m just going to let that office have its own way. I didn’t want to run for Sheriff or Assessor or Collector. His was the only office available that needed to be cleaned of its occupants.”
Blevins, who filed Feb. 22, accused Hudson of “using the office to reach out and take control of other offices. He’s got Steve Hotz, his employee who will be running against Judith Miller. He used his employee, Denora Coomer, to take the Circuit Clerk’s Office (from Blevins). He’s got his assistant taking pictures of Hobe Runion, trying to get him into the Sheriff’s Office.”
“He literally uses that office to control all the other offices,” he added.
Blevins was aware of previous unsuccessful bids to oust Judge Hudson from office and said he hopes to overcome that by “being the best candidate I can be.”
“But I think a lot of people are dissatisfied, and there are a lot of people that actually hate David Hudson, and there are people working in his office that hate him,” Blevins said, adding that “getting out the vote will be very important.”
Hudson, he said, “sits on a tremendous number of boards and organizations, but what he did to me when I was Circuit Clerk was pretty much rape — on the political level — so he needs out of there.”
Of the charges leveled against him, Blevins told Talk Business & Politics that his opponents, Hudson included, “just wanted it to be true and then get rid of me, and in the end, that’s what they ended up doing. They raped my career with false accusations. People who brought this to an issue actually said if I had been a woman, they wouldn’t be able to accuse me of sexual harassment. So they used sex to determine the accusation, and that’s sexual harassment of me. If I had been a woman, there never would have been an issue because no one would have believed the original charge.”
Blevins also said that after he was “unfairly accused,” he was “found guilty” in a “witch trial” that was reminiscent of The Scarlet Letter. Blevins said there is “no way to appeal or clear your name against this type of accusation, and I am not speaking for any of the other people accused of sexual harassment. But I was innocent.”
Blevins believes the “harassment” he endured for a year and a half “was them trying to run my office and telling me how it was going to be,” and then Hudson and Blevins’ accusers zeroed in on sexual harassment as a third attempt to remove him from his position because they wanted departmental control he was unwilling to concede.
“No one questioned that I did a good job while in office,” Blevins said. “The only reason I’m not in office is that, with sexual harassment, you can accuse someone, and that’s it. It was their third line of attack.” The first two, Blevins said, were to accuse him and his nonexistent wife of spying on a Sebastian County deputy. After that, Blevins charged, people close to Hudson tried accusing him of “stealing Social Security numbers in order to get credit cards in their name, but they couldn’t prove I had any credit cards. So finally, Human Resources said, ‘Why don’t you just charge him with sexual harassment?’”
Blevins continued: “If it was something that actually occurred, it wouldn’t be your third choice.”
THE CASE AGAINST BLEVINS
In April of 2016, Blevins lost an appeal at the Arkansas Supreme Court on a lawsuit he filed against Hudson and the Association of Arkansas Counties. Blevins formally claimed actions by Hudson and others represented abuse of process and harmed his chance at a fair reelection.
As Blevins alluded to in the interview with Talk Business & Politics on Thursday, the challenge resulted from accusations of misconduct and sexual harassment in 2011 against the former Circuit Clerk. Blevins fired employees Tyanna Caldwell and Cassie Vega on Nov. 16, 2011, but a grievance committee ruled Dec. 7 that he did not have proper cause.
The grievance hearing was held when six employees of the Circuit Clerk’s office filed hearing requests with Hudson in which they summarized several months of behavior from Blevins that included: Frequent inappropriate touching; Frequent inappropriate comments of a sexual nature; Retaliation against employees who complained; Moving employees to different jobs without adequate time to train; Sharing details of employee counseling sessions with other employees; and Wage discrimination.
Blevins ignored the hearing outcome and a letter from Hudson saying he had to reinstate the employees. Sebastian County Prosecutor Dan Shue was forced to prepare a document, signed by all six judges in the Sebastian County Circuit Court system, that forced Blevins to allow Caldwell and Vega to return to their jobs on Dec. 12, 2011.
Blevins would lose the May 2012 GOP primary to now Circuit Clerk Coomer, who received close to 65% of the vote.
In the 11-page opinion, Associate Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson rejected Blevins’ claims that Hudson does not qualify for immunity in his actions.
“When a public officer is granted discretion and empowered to exercise his independent judgment, like a judge, he becomes a quasi-judicial officer and may enjoy judicial immunity when he is acting within the scope of his authority,” Goodson wrote.
The five-year saga resulting from Blevins’ term included him being named to a national bad boss list along with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
JUDGE HUDSON RESPONDS
Talk Business & Politics reached out to Judge Hudson for comments on Blevins’ decision to file. Hudson, responding to the charge of “political rape,” said, “Those are unusual words, and I do not know what to say about that, so I will not comment any further about it.”
Hudson added that he considers public service “a noble and honorable profession, and I consider it an honor to have served to this point, and if Sebastian County voters see fit, I will continue to serve with honor and integrity for the next term.”
Link here for Judge Hudson’s profile and announcement to run for reelection.