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Lawmaker in vote-buying scheme formally resigns House seat

LITTLE ROCK — An eastern Arkansas legislator who pleaded guilty to a vote fraud charge last week formally resigned his state House seat Wednesday.

Former Rep. Hudson Hallum, a Democrat from Marion, informed Gov. Mike Beebe that “with deep regret” he would vacate the District 54 seat as of noon Wednesday.

“It has been an honor to serve with you and the members of the 88th General Assembly. Thank you for your invaluable service to the citizens of the Great State of Arkansas,” Hallum wrote in the letter dated Wednesday.

Hallum’s letter made no mention of his guilty plea Sept. 5 to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit election fraud in a vote-buying scheme with his father and two West Memphis city officials. The case was the first known use of the federal Travel Act to bring charges for vote-buying in a purely local election, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Hallum’s father, Kent Hallum, West Memphis alderman Phillip Wayne Carter and West Memphis police officer Sam Malone also pleaded guilty to the charge related to allegations of vote fraud in a 2011 special election in which Hallum won a House seat vacated by Fred Smith, who had resigned after his conviction on a theft charge.

A federal indictment accused the four of helping voters fill out absentee ballots then mailing absentee votes for Hudson Hallum to the Crittenden County Clerk’s office. The indictment said the four also admitted some absentee voters received $20 or free meals for the purchase of their votes.

Hallum had no Republican opposition in the the Nov. 6 general election for the District 50 seat. In May, he escaped a Democratic Party primary challenge when a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled that Smith was unqualified to run for the seat because his theft conviction was not expunged until after he filed for office.

Smith later was nominated by the Green Party of Arkansas for the House seat and apparently will return to the Legislature.

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