LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel admitted Tuesday that he had an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs attorney.
McDaniel, a Democrat, has already declared his candidacy for governor in 2014. A campaign spokeswoman said the revelation does not affect his candidacy.
The relationship is mentioned in divorce filings between Andrea L. “Andi” Davis and her estranged husband, Frederick N. “Fred” Day. The divorce has been filed in Garland County Circuit Court.
In Day’s filing on Oct. 31, he accused his estranged wife of having “sexual relations with Attorney General of the State of Arkansas Dustin McDaniel in 2011 or 2012,” according to Talk Business. He also accuses her of sexual relationships with other men, drug use and money laundering.
McDaniel, who married his current wife, Bobbi, in 2009, said in a statement released by his campaign that he met Davis during his 2010 re-election campaign.
“I had limited interaction with her in 2011, some of which I regret to say was inappropriate,” McDaniel said.
“I have no knowledge of the other allegations contained in this pleading,” the attorney general said.
“My wife Bobbi and I love each other very much,” McDaniel said. “I have been candid with her about this matter, and with much prayer, we have moved on with our life together. I hope the people of Arkansas will accept my apology and know how honored I am to work for them everyday.”
Davis did not immediately return a call to her Hot Springs law office for comment Tuesday. Day did not return calls to his podiatry clinics in Hot Springs and Blytheville.
McDaniel, 40, was elected attorney general in November 2006 and took office the following January as the nation’s youngest state attorney general. Within days, he split from his then-wife, Amanda, and in March 2007 he filed for divorce and joint custody of their daughter, Emma Grace.
McDaniel announced his engagement to Bobbi Fowler of Jonesboro in March 2009 and they were married the following June.
He announced his candidacy for governor in June. Political observers said Tuesday that admission of an extramarital affair is not necessarily a death blow to political aspirations.
“You can get beyond it,” said Art English, a Democrat-leaning political science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “When an elected official or candidate of some prominence is involved in an inappropriate affair and he admits to that and his supporters stand behind him, mainly his wife, and he apologizes for it, the public is quite forgiving.”
Republican political consultant Bill Vickery said the public’s attitude in such matters all boils down to the explanation.
“Voters will analyze the situation, and if there’s a real explanation that’s given to their satisfaction, they’ll move on,” Vickery said, “but it better be truthful and honest; they won’t abide the runaround.”
Tricia Wallace, a spokeswoman at the Washington, D.C., communication firm handling media for McDaniel’s gubernatorial campaign, said the attorney general had no further comment Tuesday.