A late-night video, a donut-shop confab, and how the Republican primary for treasurer got weird 

The Republican primary race for state treasurer between Rep. Duncan Baird (R-Lowell) and Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan has taken a turn for the bizarre.

Late-night hijinks at the Capitol, grainy video, clandestine photos at the White Water Tavern, possible blackmail, baseless insinuation of a sex scandal, secret recordings and a strange meeting at a Krispy Kreme. The Republican primary race for state treasurer between Rep. Duncan Baird (R-Lowell) and Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan has taken a turn for the bizarre. It's perhaps fitting, since the office of treasurer was previously held by Martha Shoffner, who exited in disgrace after allegedly receiving cash bribes in a pie box.

Our saga begins during the special legislative session called last month. After adjourning in the evening of Oct. 17, Baird went out for dinner with fellow legislators and other friends at Doe's, then went to White Water Tavern.

click to enlarge Duncan Baird image
  • Duncan Baird

In the wee hours of the morning, the group — Baird along with Reps. John Burris (R-Harrison) and Micah Neal (R-Springdale), House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot), lobbyist and former state Republican official Katherine Vasilos (who is dating Burris), and an additional female friend of Vasilos — made a visit to the Capitol, which is a short walk from the apartments where many legislators stay while the General Assembly is in session. The visit took place roughly between 1:40 and 3 a.m.

According to a record of the visit from the State Capitol Police, the group wanted to go on the Capitol roof. Capitol Police Chief Darrell Hedden later reported to Secretary of State Mark Martin's top aides, "[One of the officers on duty] told me he felt some of the individuals had possible issues of steadiness." The officer told them that they'd had recent problems with the freight elevator and that he didn't have a key with him to access the roof, so the group could not go to the roof.

Security video shows several members of the party walked around the interior of the building. Baird left about 2:25 a.m. Capitol Police said the remainder of the group left at 2:54 a.m.

In an initial note to Kelly Boyd of Martin's staff at 6:45 a.m. that morning, Hedden commented, "The officers were told that Secretary Martin would be contacted to rectify this and they would return the next night for a trip to the roof." He did not identify who reportedly said this. Boyd wrote back, "A roof tour is not a good idea at 1:30 a.m."

At Boyd's request, Hedden prepared a video of events, four segments of a minute or so each. They include shots as members of the group, some carrying plastic cups, drifted through the tunnel entry, in a hallway and walking outside northward in front of the Capitol. Other than the hour, there is nothing unusual about the group's behavior. They walk around and talk, and do not appear unsteady on the video (you can watch the video at arktimes.com/domevideo). It's hard to imagine what could be construed as scandalous for Baird, but his opponent Milligan apparently thought otherwise.

On Nov. 4, Jim Harris, a campaign aide to Milligan, made a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of the emails and video about "anyone attempting to gain access to the roof of the Capitol after normal business hours ..."

Did someone at the Secretary of State's office leak the information? "I have no idea where the leak came from," Secretary of State spokesman Alex Reed said. He said that he had not known that the materials existed until he received the FOIA request from Harris. Reed acknowledged that as far as he knew, no one outside of the Secretary of State's office would have had access to them. Milligan's camp has been mum about who tipped them off.

Speaking of...

More »

More by David Ramsey

  • Long Underwear, the Useless Web, Organized Konfusion, Getting away for a while and more

    I recommend getting away for a while. Me and the missus are out here eating Walmart produce in the country and it is all right. The German came to visit us this week and showed us a fine new way to cook pasta. The German – we met him on our honeymoon trip to Europe and on his direction had swallowed some mind-benders and spent twelve hours in a nightclub in East Berlin, where we had decided, mid-dancing, to move to Little Rock, Arkansas.
    • Nov 14, 2014
  • The GOP in charge in Arkansas

    What will it mean?
    • Nov 13, 2014
  • More »

Latest in Cover Stories

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • The Quapaw return to Arkansas

    Casino try a good bet.
  • Jean Gordon to receive Truth Teller award

    Jean Gordon, who's worked a half-century in just about every social justice and peace movement you can name, will receive the Arkansas Community Institute's 2014 Community Truth Teller Award at a program at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the library's Darragh Center
  • GOP's new Obamacare attack

    It was inevitable. The long crusade against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has pivoted from a battle against socialism to a populist war against big business: The program known as Obamacare is now supposed to be merely a feed trough for the captains of industry, not a government program to force health care on the undeserving poor.
  • Fan happiness over Hogs' win over LSU costs UA $25,000 UPDATED

    The University of Arkansas will be fined $25,000 by the SEC because Hog fans stormed the football field after Saturday's victory over LSU snapped a long SEC losing streak. It was a second offense by the UA of the conference's "access to competition area" policy.
  • A new political chapter begins in Arkansas

    While there is much more diving into numbers from exit polls and vote tallies from Election 2014 to be done, it is clear that Arkansas's voters went beyond merely turning a page on the state's electoral past and instead created a wholly new chapter. In the process, three distinguishing elements of Arkansas's political tradition — its provincialism, its personalism and its populism — all shifted from the present to past tense in an election that served as the exclamation point for an era of dramatic change in the state's politics.

Event Calendar

« »

November

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Viewed

  • The Quapaw return to Arkansas

    Casino try a good bet.
  • Homicide Diary: blood and asphalt

    More voices from the streets of Little Rock. The latest in our series.
  • For the least of these

    French Hill and the pope, the killing of a mountain lion, the inequality of Arkansas, preschool v. prisons, senator fighting for inequality threatens University of Arkansas funding and the return of the Huck.
  • Clinton's foreign policy legacy

    Left to right, moderator James Bennet of The Atlantic; Sandy Berger, the former national security advisor; retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander; Ambassador Nancy Soderberg; Mara Rudman, former chief of staff of the National Security Council, and Robert Strong, a professor at Washington and Lee University.
  • Metropolis

    About a month ago, The Observer helped a friend move from Fayetteville to Little Rock for work. Said friend is a quiet guy given to solitary activities, fond of cats and weightlifting, and he tends to get ideas in his head that are difficult to shake loose once installed — in this case regarding his new city of residence. Though he grew up in a Memphis suburb, he's lived for over a decade in Conway and Fayetteville, and it was clear his vision of Little Rock was a little skewed. Moving to a real city, he kept saying.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The Quapaw return to Arkansas

    • I'm the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest…

    • on November 20, 2014
  • Re: The Quapaw return to Arkansas

    • That's what we need...another casino. Look how Tunica is tanking. I hope this doesn't happen.

    • on November 19, 2014
 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation