Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UPDATED: Rep. Justin Harris will not run for re-election

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 3:20 PM

click to enlarge JUSTIN HARRIS: The legislator won't seek re-election, his lawyer confirmed today. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • JUSTIN HARRIS: The legislator won't seek re-election, his lawyer confirmed today.

UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: I've received the press release from Harris' attorney, which I'm including below along with the video of his very brief talk with KFSM.

According to a tweet sent by Larry Henry of Northwest Arkansas's Channel 5 news, Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) says he will not be seeking re-election.

Harris' attorney, Jennifer Wells, confirmed the news in an email. She said she'll have a statement shortly, which I'll add to this post whenever it appears.

Henry also said the news station will have a one-on-one interview with Harris at 5 p.m. today.

Harris and his wife, Marsha, have been the subject of public scrutiny since the Arkansas Times published a series of stories in March detailing the couple's adoption of two young girls and their subsequent 're-homing' and abuse. Last month, the Times published a follow-up story that raised the question of whether Harris would continue to serve in elected office.

UPDATE:  In his interview with KFSM, Harris said that he and his wife had already discussed the possibility of not running for a fourth term, but said the rehoming controversy "definitely has a little part to do with it."

Wells released the following statement from Harris, which references the child maltreatment investigation that I discussed in my last major story. She's also sent along the documents from the State Police's Crimes Against Children Division notifying the Harrises that those allegations have been found "unsubstantiated." I'll post those tomorrow.

Justin Harris Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection; Result of CACD Investigation Find New Allegations to be Unsubstantiated

Representative Justin Harris will not seek re-election for another term in the Arkansas Legislature. Representative Harris thanks his constituents for the opportunity to serve them for the past three terms. He also thanks his family, especially his wife, Marsha, for all of their sacrifices. Representative Harris looks forward to spending time with his family and completing his advanced degree after the fiscal session.

Justin and Marsha Harris are also pleased to confirm that the Crimes Against Children Division of the Arkansas State Police and DHS recently concluded a second investigation finding all allegations to be unsubstantiated. This investigation — which the Arkansas Times reported in a May 28, 2015 cover story — included claims that the Harris’s former adopted daughters were subjected to “exorcisms,” were locked in their rooms for lengthy periods, and were not given toys to play with. In crafting the story, this Times article cited a teenager's brief tenure as a babysitter to the Harris family and several anonymous sources. The Harrises regret that these new false allegations required state investigators to re-interview the girls.

Here's the video from Channel 5:


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