The race for the office of state treasurer got a lot more interesting this week...I'm talking Capitol security video, secretly recorded conversations, accusations of intimidation (seriously, I'm about to submit some ideas to the writers of Scandal).
Representative Duncan Baird says when he met his opponent, Saline County Clerk Dennis Milligan, at a West Little Rock Krispy Kreme last week, he was prepared for what he called Milligan's reputation of 'aggression.' Baird decided to record the conversation. Milligan can be heard saying, "Look, I'm not releasing this info. Other people have said...here's the bottom line. You're finding a new career. You're not going to run for state treasurer. Ok? Unless you want to see this on the 7:00 news."
Side note: There is no 7:00 news...at least, not in this market.
First, let me back up about three weeks before that conversation to give you the back story. During the special session, Capitol security cameras captured video of Rep. Duncan Baird, Speaker Davy Carter, Rep. Micah Neal, Rep. John Burris and two female friends who came with him walking through the Capitol at 2 a.m. An email by Capitol Police reveals that the group asked to be let up to the roof. Officers concerned about 'possible unsteadiness' refused to allow them access. In an email to Kelly Boyd, Chief Darrell Hedden writes, 'The officers were told that Secretary Martin would be contacted to rectify this.'
Side note: No one is sure who made that comment to officers.
Milligan was tipped off to the video and complaint by 'political enemies of Duncan Baird.' Milligan called Baird to set up the afore mentioned Krispy Kreme meeting where he told Baird about the complaint and video.
Here are some excerpts from that conversation.
MILLIGAN: "The other thing that is troubling is, as a former (Republican Party) Chairman, and with the issues that we had...do you think it's appropriate at 2:30 in the morning to be in the state Capitol with women that aren't your wives?"
MILLIGAN: "Let me ask you this, do you think your wife would enjoy seeing this?" BAIRD: "Yeah, I think she'd be fine with it."
MILLIGAN: "Look, I'm not releasing this info. Other people have said. Here's the bottom line. You're finding a new career. You're not going to run for state treasurer. Okay? Unless you want to see this on the 7:00 news." BAIRD: "Well, I appreciate you letting me know."
MILLIGAN: "You're going to say that Burris is not married. Fair enough. I don't think my wife would appreciate me at 2:30 at the Capitol with women that I don't know, or that are not a part. I mean, there's nothing that smells good about this thing." BAIRD: "You know, it depends on what you think is going on there." MILLIGAN: "It depends on what the public thinks is going on, and as a party, this is going to be a bad story for our party. It's going to be a very bad story."
Milligan: "You're affecting Davy's life and three kids. You're affecting potentially his job. You're affecting Tom Cotton. A lot of pressure, and you want to throw them under the bus. That's your business...You're not going to get me and I don't think you're going to get Bruce to understand. I really don't."
Baird: "Knowing what happened that night, I know it's not a big deal." Milligan: "It's at this point, I don't know what to tell you."
Dennis Milligan insists that if you read the transcript of the conversation, it's clear that he was speaking on behalf of others.
"If you listen to the whole tape. You never hear me say that 'Duncan, I want you out of the race.' What you hear me doing is delivering a message that's from some political enemies that says, 'You will get out of the race. You will not run for state treasurer. You will find something else to do'."
I asked, but Milligan refused to say whom he was speaking on behalf of saying, "These individuals may potentially deliver other information in the future." There is a reference to Bruce in the recording. Other sources have identified that as being Bruce Campbell, but I cannot independently verify that.
During an interview, Milligan spoke frequently of the concern of Republican leadership with Baird's actions in the video and also his votes, which include voting in support of the private option.
Milligan said he was advised by some not to meet Baird in regards to the matter. This article previously speculated that Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, who is both in Republican leadership and whose stance on the private option has garnered support from Milligan, may have been aware of the video surveillance prior to its release. However, Westerman's campaign said that is not the case.
"Rep. Westerman had no knowledge of the surveillance video that is the subject of this story prior to it being made public," said campaign spokesperson Kenneth Ryan James.
Baird told me by phone that Milligan's insistence he was delivering threats on behalf of others is even creepier than making them himself. Baird says the tape speaks for itself, "(Milligan) wanted me out."
Milligan says the recording is Baird "trying to deflect from his role in trying to intimidate a police officer."
Side note: I looked, but couldn't find any reference to when that comment was made to the officer. There is a possibility that Baird, who left before the others, may not have been there at that point, but I can't be sure either way.
So is this a story about intimidating a police officer or is it a story about threatening an opponent? You decide.
Click here to hear the full recorded conversation.
Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:35 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:35:49 GMT
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