- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

CONWAY, Ark. (AP) - The Faulkner County Election Commission has voted to back a former county clerk despite her guilty plea to obstruction of governmental operations.

The commission voted Thursday for its attorney to argue that Republican Margaret Darter should be allowed to stay in the race for county clerk, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2eiYAwo ).

Darter was the clerk until she entered her plea and resigned the same day after admitting that she dated some county officials’ statements of financial interest to make it look as if they were filed by the state deadline. Darter was originally charged with felony tampering with a public record.

County attorney David Hogue had told the commission he thought Darter was disqualified from being in the race because of her Oct. 11 plea, but that he’d argue whatever position the panel and the county clerk wanted him to make.

Four Faulkner County residents sued Darter and the commission earlier this week, saying the former clerk was ineligible to hold public office due to her conviction.

Darter’s attorney Frank Shaw said that because her offense was the lowest-level misdemeanor, her record will be expunged before January, which is when she would take office if elected.

Shaw said Darter was not guilty of an “infamous crime” which is the state law standard to determine whether a person is eligible to hold public office. Hogue disagreed, saying the crime was indeed “infamous.”

Both sides will be presenting their arguments Monday before a circuit judge, who will decide the case. Shaw and Hogue both said they expected the case to end up before the Arkansas Supreme Court.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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