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Wednesday, February 01, 2006 


This is not the first dispute between these two....

By Doug ThompsonArkansas News Bureau

A plane ride to a Lincoln Day Dinner in Cleburne County was not a campaign trip, state Sen. Jim Holt said Tuesday, countering an ethics claim that he should have reported the trip as a contribution.

Washington County Justice of the Peace Paul L. Graham of Farmington filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission and provided a copy to the Arkansas News Bureau. The commission does not publicize complaints until they are resolved.

Graham's complaint contends that Holt, a Republican from Springdale who is running for lieutenant governor, should have reported a plane ride he shared with Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller as an in-kind campaign contribution.

Holt said he had made a commitment to attend to the GOP fundraiser last March 17 that was not related to his campaign for lieutenant governor. He said that after having car trouble that morning and facing afternoon traffic, he then asked Rockefeller, who was also planning to attend, for a ride, whether Rockefeller was going by plane or car.

Holt said he would report the trip on his latest statement of financial interest and would "fully cooperate with any inquiries by the Ethics Commission."

Graham's complaint said Republican secretary of state candidate Jim LaGrone accepted the same plane ride and reported the ride in financial disclosure reports filed with the secretary of state's office.

Holt said he has never shared a plane ride with LaGrone. LaGrone listed a May 7 flight as an in-kind contribution worth $580.40, secretary of state's documents show.

Graham said in an interview that he is a friend of Rep. Doug Matayo, R-Springdale, one of Holt's opponents in the May 23 Republican primary. Little Rock lawyer Chuck Banks is the other.

Holt said Graham "is Doug's best friend, and everybody knows it."

Graham said in an earlier interview that he was Matayo's friend, but that he had not informed Matayo of his plans to file a complaint.

Graham and Holt have had disputes before. Holt filed a harassment charge against Graham on March 6, 2002, claiming that Graham had threatened him with slander if Holt didn't drop out of the District 35 state Senate race, which Holt went on to win.

Nothing came of the harassment complaint.

I do not believe Holt to be an unethical man whatsoever. This is an example of his INCOMPETENCE to handle the job.

A Lincoln Day Dinner not a campaign event? His statement of denial is even MORE ridiculous. Especially since Lagrone thought it was and filed it. I wonder if Rockefeller reported it too?

A man of REAL integrity would admit his mistake, and deal with the consequences.

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