Ex-legislator admits filing inaccurate campaign finance reports

LITTLE ROCK — Former state legislator Hudson Hallum, who resigned after pleading guilty to election fraud, said Wednesday he has repaid campaign loans and corrected inaccuracies in campaign finance reports in response to an ethics complaint that was filed against him.

Hallum appeared before the state Ethics Commission on Wednesday for a closed-door hearing. He told reporters afterward that he admitted to the commission he had filed erroneous reports for the 2011 special election cycle.

Hallum said he has filed corrected versions of the reports and repaid all loans his campaign received, which he said totaled about $80,000.

“I’ve always admitted when I’ve made a mistake with what I’ve done, and I’ve since corrected the reports to the best that I can. I put myself on the mercy of the commission,” he said.

The Ethics Commission’s staff conducted an investigation after receiving a report from conservative blogger and Arkansas News Bureau columnist Jason Tolbert of Benton. The commission took no final action Wednesday and could not discuss the case because it is still pending.

Tolbert’s complaint alleged that Hallum received campaign contributions of $50,000 and $2,500 from his father, Kent Hallum, that exceeded the individual contribution limit. Hallum initially reported the $50,000 contribution as a loan from Fidelity National Bank, according to the complaint.

Tolbert also alleged that Hudson Hallum failed to report spending more than $17,000 on consulting services provided by the Markham Group, among other things.

Tolbert, who attended the hearing, said Hallum told the commission that he only recently realized his mistake regarding the $50,000 from his father.

“That loan was repaid by his dad in August of 2011,” Tolbert said. “It should have been obvious to him two years ago that it was not his loan and that it was actually a contribution from his dad, so that explanation didn’t really hold water to me.”

If the commission finds that probable cause exists to find that Hallum violated ethics laws, it will offer him a settlement. Hallum could then accept the settlement, which would conclude the case, or reject it, after which the commission would hold another hearing and take final action.

The commission also could refer the case to a prosecutor.

Hallum resigned from the state House in September 2012 after he, his father and two other men pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud in connection with the 2011 special election that Hallum won.

Hudson Hallum was sentenced to one year of home detention and three years of probation, and was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service.