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Wednesday, January 25, 2006 

ARKTIMES: Campaign Espionage?

The Bill Halter campaign is raising questions about campaign tactics by opponent Mike Beebe's organization.

It began with a man who appeared at gubernatorial candidate Halter's speech to Young Democrats at UALR last week. The man -- who said he was a veteran and who said he didn't know much about Halter -- proceeded to ask a list of very specific personal questions that indicated the man knew quite a bit about Halter. Halter took the questions – about his time out of state, where he paid taxes in Ark., etc. Later, through a Halter volunteer, the campaign learned that the same man had apparently sent along an e-mail message to the Beebe campaign about some future political activities by the group that invited Halter to speak. A Beebe plant perhaps? Sure sounds like it.

Then there were the people with video cameras who taped both the UALR event and Halter's announcement Saturday at the Capitol. And members of Beebe's staff in the attorney general's office attended the Halter announcement Saturday. Oppo research is one thing; but planted questions and videotapes? As told by the Halter people, it sounds almost Nixonian.

Bud Jackson, Halter's spokesman, calls it "dirty politics." And he uses it as a handy segue to other questions about the conduct of the Beebe campaign. There were earlier reports about work by Beebe state employees and use of state equipment on state time. Then there's the "double-dipping," as Jackson put it, by Beebe's chief of staff Ruth Whitney. Since January, she's been paid for 30 hours of work at the attorney general's office and paid also from campaign money. This is not illegal, according to the state Ethics Commission, but the general custom has been for state employees to wholly detach from their public offices when helping a boss's political campaign.

Jackson said the Halter campaign "won't videotape Beebe events" and won't send moles to cover Beebe. The Halter campaign is all about a change from the old ways of doing things, he said.

We have a call into the Beebe campaign about this allegation. The e-mail supplied by the man at the UALR event is not operative. We were given a name, but have gotten no return calls so far to a man with that name in the phone directory. So we can't tell you if he was merely an interested Young Democrat or, as the Halter people suspect, a Beebe plant. We can pass along below the Halter camp's photographs of people with video cameras at UALR (left) and the Capitol (right). Maybe they were just shutter bugs or political junkies out on a lark. If they happen to be in our reading audience, we'd like to hear from them... To View Entire Story Click Here

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