|Updated: 9/12/2012 7:03 pm
||Published: 9/12/2012 10:57 am
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An east Arkansas lawmaker resigned Wednesday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit election fraud, and a spokesman said Gov. Mike Beebe was weighing whether to call an election for the remaining four months.
Democratic Rep. Hudson Hallum submitted his resignation letter to Beebe's office a week after pleading guilty in federal court along with his father and two campaign workers.
Hallum and the others said in court last week they participated in a conspiracy to bribe voters to influence the outcome of special elections held last year in Arkansas House District 54. Prosecutors said the conspiracy included destruction of absentee ballots cast for Hallum's opponent and giving money and food in exchange for votes.
Hallum didn't mention the case in his one-paragraph resignation letter.
"It has been an honor to serve with you and the members of the 88th General Assembly," he wrote. "Thank you for your invaluable service to the great state of Arkansas."
Hallum said last week he would step down, and had told The Associated Press in an interview that he believed he had "corrupted" the voting process. Hallum did not immediately return a call Wednesday morning.
Beebe's office said it was reviewing whether to keep the seat vacant for the remainder of the year or to call a special session.
"I think it's more a question of if we have time to fill the seat before the end of the year," Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said. "(Calling a special election) is a process that has been shown to take a number of months. How does the fact that we have a general election in November play into that?"
Hallum's resignation marks the second time in less than two years that the district has been without a representative.
Hallum won the east Arkansas seat in a special election last year following the resignation of Rep. Fred Smith, who stepped down after he was found guilty of felony theft of property delivered by mistake. A judge later dismissed the theft case, but Smith was blocked from running in the Democratic primary for his old seat against Hallum because he had a conviction at the time he filed.
Smith is now running as the Green Party nominee for the seat. No Republican is running.
The state Democratic and Republican parties did not take a position on whether a special election should be called. State GOP chairman Doyle Webb questioned whether it would be a good use of taxpayer money to call an election for such a short term.
A spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party said the party was studying whether it's possible to remove Hallum's name from the November ballot, but the secretary of state's office said it was too late since ballots are being printed.
State election officials have said that if Hallum's name is on the ballot and he wins re-election in November, a special election would be necessary. A court, however, could order election officials to not count any votes cast for Hallum.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)