Campaign Billboard for Sheriff Candidate Creates Controversy

- BENTON, AR - A picture is worth a thousand words and in Saline County, a few complaints as well.

It's a picture of a Sheriff candidate in a uniform from another county and displaying his rank as captain. The question is it allowed, or is it even legal?

It is causing a stir and now the Ethics Commission may be involved.

The Commission won't confirm or deny an investigation but we know they have been contacted and asked to look into whether the candidate is breaking the rules.

Driving East bound on I30 through Saline County you're bound to see it. Smiling right back at you is one of the eight candidates running for Saline County Sheriff.

It was put there by the campaign for Republican candidate Simon Haynes.

Some would say however, something about it is illegal.

The alleged problem here is the uniform Haynes is wearing in the picture. One might assume it was provided by the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

Haynes is currently a Captain there.

According to A.C.A § 7-1-103 it is "unlawful for any public servant to use for campaign purposes any item of personal property provided with public funds."

One might further assume that the uniform worn in the picture to campaign for Haynes is an item of personal property provided with public funds.

"We've just had reports into our office," explained Saline County Clerk, Doug Curtis, about complaints over the billboard.

He explained his understand of the law as, "Any moneys that is used from the public funds, it shall not be used for any campaigns."

Curtis has done some of his own looking into the law but he'll tell you, he's not an attorney, and has reached out to the Ethics Commission.

"If they were to determine the billboard and picture are illegal, then the Saline County Election Commission would investigate," explains Curtis.

"If we're doing something wrong," remarked Simon Haynes. "We don't believe we are but we'll make the correction."

He says however it wouldn't need to get that far.

"Simply, it's a picture of me," said Haynes. "It's a uniform that has been purchased with private funds."

Haynes says he is aware of the claims circulating around and hopes to answer to them.

He provided a copy of a receipt he says shows that he purchased everything in the picture and he insists that none of what you see was provided with public funds.

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