by Max Brantley
The Democratic Party raises an old, but good point. Hypocrite Jim Holt, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, has often called for prohibition of gifts by lobbyists to legislators. But he won't say who gifts him with the necessities of life, such as a big van to haul his big brood around.
News release on the jump.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY NEWS RELEASE
Little Rock) – The Democratic Party of Arkansas today called Lieutenant governor candidate Jim Holt a “hypocrite who can’t be trusted” for failing to disclose the name of the donor who gave Holt a free 15-passenger van in 2002 while he was serving in the legislature.
Holt, who has repeatedly called for a ban on all gifts from lobbyists -- including a gift as little as “a cup of coffee” – has refused to disclose who gave him the van. Arkansas ethics law limits gifts to public servants to less than $100 in value, unless the gift is not related to official actions.
“Jim Holt seems to be drawing upon his experience as a failed used car salesman,” remarked DPA Chairman Jason Willett. “Holt is pulling a bait and switch job on Arkansans. He says he supports banning gifts from lobbyists, but he then he won’t tell us who the people are giving him these gifts.”
In 2003, Holt told an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter that the gift was a “miracle” from a member of his church. But Holt refused to disclose the donor’s name.
Holt Said Gifted Van said was to Replace Older, Warn-Out Van – But One Year Later the Gifted Van was Not Disclosed on Personal Property Records
Holt said he accepted the van (a 1998 Ford Econoline Cargo Van E-350) as a gift to help his family after an older van (a 1990 Ford Econoline Compact Van-150) wore out during his 2002 failed U.S. Senate race.
But while the gifted van shows-up on Holt’s personal property records with the Washington County Assessor in 2002 it is not included in Holt’s personal property records for 2003, 2004 and 2005. But the older 1990 Ford van remains on his personal property tax records from 2001 through 2005.
It is not clear if Holt sold the gifted van and/or has failed to disclose it and pay taxes on the property in subsequent years.
“How can we believe a word Jim Holt tells us?” questioned Willett. “He says the newer van was a gift because the older one wore out. Years later, he still has the older van and the gifted one has disappeared. Did Holt simply take the gift and sell it to make even more money? If he didn’t, and he really received the van to help his family, then what happened to it? Why is he still paying taxes on the older worn out van and not on the newer van?”
“Jim Holt can’t be trusted which is exactly why he should disclose the name of the person who gave him a free van,” continued Willett. “This van could have been the gift that kept on giving if the intention was to sell it and make even more money. There are too many questions that need to be answered.”
“Jim Holt took a lot more than a cup of coffee but he won’t tell us who gave him the van,” continued Chairman Willett. “It’s hard to ban gifts from lobbyists when you refuse to tell people who are giving you the gifts.”
“Why would someone give Jim Holt a free van while he was serving in the legislature?” questioned Willett. “Was the person a lobbyist? Did Jim Holt promise anything in exchange for the van? We cannot answer these questions until Holt discloses who gave him a free van.”