Did someone hire a group of people to stage a protest outside the campaign headquarters of Bill Halter, who is running in next Tuesday's runoff election for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor?
We received this e-mail note from a reader:
Have you already heard about the protest outside of Halter's HQ? It was a bright collection of incendiary signs like "Halter's Den of Sin" held aloft by about a dozen obviously homeless people. I stopped to ask who they were, and they individually refused to speak but referred me to their "spokesperson." He was very evasive when I tried to find out who they were, but I managed to drag out of him that they organized at the Salvation Army (duh). If I had reportorial instincts, I would've thought to ask his name, if they'd been paid, if they made the signs themselves, and who they supported in the race. I'm kicking myself for not asking when I had the chance.
Okay, one last detail I forgot to include. They protested from at least 12:30--1:00, and then I caught them as they were walking back to the Salvation Army on Markham (one block from the train station where I work).
UPDATE: Halter's campaign accuses his opponent, Tim Wooldridge, of hiring homeless people for the protest. Read their statement after the jump. And Wooldridge disavows a connection, of course. Also on the jump.
STATEMENT FROM HALTER CAMPAIGN
We are convinced that Arkansans are smart enough to recognize a last minute smear attack based on lies when they see one.
Tim Wooldridge should spend less time spreading lies and more time apologizing for a shameful state senate record that includes bringing back public hangings on courthouse square lawns, opposing needed tax relief for our veterans returning home from Iraq, and voting to threaten the water supply of Central Arkansas.
Last night, Tim Wooldridge started airing an ad based on lies. Today, they paid homeless people to picket an opponent's headquarters. In less than twenty-four hours, Tim Wooldridge has managed to lie to the entire state of Arkansas and create the first jobs of his entire senate career by hiring homeless people to spread those lies.
Statement from Senator Tim Wooldridge:
“I heard about this (protest) while campaigning in Northwest Arkansas . Our campaign didn’t hire anyone to protest in front of our opponent’s office.
His out of state campaign staff, while having a fertile imagination, is obviously spinning from the fact that Arkansans are finally getting to know some things about this ‘mystery man’ who has suddenly appeared on
Arkansas ’ political landscape.
Their agitation stems from the fact that their campaign knows that Bill Halter can’t beat Jim Holt in November. I have served in the state senate with Jim Holt, and I know Jim Holt better than anyone running for Lt. Governor. Jim Holt is not in touch with mainstream Arkansas , and neither is Bill Halter. He knows it, and Arkansas Democrats are figuring it out.”