by David Ramsey
Fox16 reports that former Democratic legislator Hudson Hallum was sentenced today in federal court to one year home detention and three years probation. Hallum was also given a $20,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. His father, Kent Hallum, also got a probationary sentence with nine months of home confinement.
Hallum pleaded guilty last September to felony conspiracy to commit election fraud, resigning his seat on the day of his plea. He and others sentenced earlier worked out a scheme to buy bundled absentee votes with the likes of chicken dinners and vodka.
He apologized for his actions at the sentencing.
The U.S. attorney's news release on the case follows. The Republican Party has been crowing about the sentencing and describing it as a vote fraud case, suggesting it is the sort of thing targeted by the Voter ID law. It is not. The absentee vote buying didn't involve fraudulent IDs.
Patrick C. Harris, Attorney for the United States, Acting Under Authority Conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman announced the sentencing of former State Representative Hudson Hallum, age 31, and his father, Kent Hallum, age 54, on a charge of conspiracy to commit election fraud.
The Hallums were sentenced by United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker. Hudson Hallum was sentenced to three years probation with nine months of home confinement on electronic monitoring, fined $20,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Kent Hallum was sentenced to three years probation with nine months home confinement on electronic monitoring and was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000. Kent was also sentenced to perform100 hours of community service. During the period of home confinement for both Hudson and Kent,
employment is excepted as well as other activities approved in advance by probation.
“The activities of Mr. Hallum and his associates are very disappointing. It erodes the very basis for our democracy,” said Harris. “The United States Attorney’s Office considers protecting the integrity of the electoral process a priority for the people of Arkansas. Investigating and prosecuting voter fraud schemes such as this case, are essential to restoring confidence in elected public officials.”
"Today's sentencings of a father and son for their roles in a voter fraud scheme demonstrate just how pervasive public corruption can be," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman. "My office will continue to aggressively investigate those public officials who choose to violate the trust of Arkansans by engaging in these corrupt schemes."
Both Hudson and Kent Hallum waived indictment and entered guilty pleas to a conspiracy charge in an Information on September 5, 2012. In doing so, each acknowledged his participation in a conspiracy to bribe voters to influence absentee votes in the Arkansas District 54 primary, its runoff election, and the general election, all of which were held between February and July 2011. Hudson Hallum was a candidate in that election and won the District 54 House seat.
Former West Memphis Police Officer Sam Malone, age 32, and former West Memphis City Councilman Phillip Wayne Carter, age 44, who also pled guilty to the conspiracy charge, were sentenced in hearings held May 21 and May 22, 2013. Malone was sentenced to three years probation, the first 7.2 months of which will be spent on home confinement with electronic monitoring,
a $25,000 fine plus 100 hours of community service. Malone will be restricted to his home while on confinement except for the hours of his employment. Carter was sentenced to
three years probation, the first five months of which will be spent on home confinement with electronic monitoring, plus 100 hours of community service, and a $2,500 fine. Carter will also be restricted to his home while on confinement except for the hours of his employment.
According to the felony Information to which the defendants pled guilty, Hudson Hallum, was elected to House Seat 54 on July 12, 2011. Kent Hallum, age 53, managed the finances and certain logistics of his son’s campaign for the District 54 seat, including the campaign’s effort to solicit and secure votes cast by absentee ballot. Hudson Hallum hired Carter who was both a West Memphis City Councilman and a Crittenden County Juvenile Probation Officer, to
implement the Hallum campaign’s absentee ballot strategy. Malone who was a West Memphis police officer, assisted Carter in implementing the Hallum campaign’s absentee ballot strategy.
Hudson Hallum, along with others, declared his candidacy as a Democrat in the special primary election for House Seat 54, which took place on April 20, 2011. Because neither Hudson Hallum nor any other Democratic candidate obtained the required majority of votes in the special primary election, a special primary runoff election took place on May 10, 2011.
Hudson Hallum was certified as the winner in the special primary runoff by 8 votes. Hudson Hallum also won the special general election held on July 12, 2011, and was subsequently certified as the winner of the House District 54 special election. At the time of the elections, District 54 included West Memphis, Marion, Earle, and Turrell, Arkansas, as well as other rural areas of Crittenden County.
Hudson Hallum and Kent Hallum tasked Carter, Malone, and others with identifying absentee ballot voters within District 54; obtaining and distributing absentee ballot applications to particular voters; determining when absentee ballots were mailed to absentee voters by the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office; and making contact with recipients of absentee ballots to assist those voters in completing the ballots. Once such absentee ballots were completed, the absentee voters typically placed their ballots in unsealed envelopes, which were retrieved by Carter, Malone and others and then subsequently delivered to either Hudson Hallum or Kent Hallum for inspection to ensure that the absentee ballot votes had been cast for Hudson Hallum. After inspection by Hudson Hallum or Kent Hallum, the absentee ballots that contained votes for Hudson Hallum were sealed and mailed to the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office. If a ballot contained a vote for Hudson Hallum’s opponent, it was destroyed.
At the plea hearing held September 5, 2012, the defendants admitted that certain absentee ballot voters received things of value in exchange for their votes being cast for Hudson Hallum. For example, in or about May 2011, Carter and Malone provided a chicken dinner to an individual in exchange for the absentee ballot votes of that individual and one other individual.
Further, on or about May 4, 2011, Carter contacted Hudson Hallum about a family of eight who had requested a “family meal” in exchange for their absentee ballot votes being cast in favor of Hudson Hallum. Carter requested $20 from Hudson Hallum to pay for the food, to which request Hudson Hallum agreed.
In addition, on or about May 5, 2011, Carter notified Hudson Hallum that some absentee ballot voters were “holding on” to their absentee ballots because they needed money for food. Hudson Hallum instructed Carter to obtain money for the absentee voters from Kent Hallum.
Hudson Hallum further told Carter that $20 to $40 was too much to pay for one vote, but that this amount was acceptable to pay for the votes of multiple members of a household. On that same date, Hudson Hallum also told Carter, “We need to use that black limo and buy a couple of cases of some cheap vodka and whiskey to get people to vote.” Two days later, Carter and Kent Hallum spoke with an individual in Memphis, Tennessee about getting a discounted price for the purchase of 100 half pints of vodka for the campaign.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Arkansas