LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Ethics Commission on Friday dismissed a complaint against a state House member who was elected to a seat vacated by another member’s death.
A complaint filed by Jim Hall of Monticello against state Rep. Leanne Burch, D-Monticello, alleged that when running last year for the House seat vacated by the death of Rep. Sheilla Lampkin, D-Monticello, Burch failed to report in-kind contributions from the state Democratic Party and others.
Hall alleged that Lampkin received in-kind contributions in the form of a lawsuit that was filed by former Democratic state Rep. Johnnie Bolin of Crossett challenging Hall’s eligibility to run as a Republican for Lampkin’s former House seat. The suit led to Hall’s disqualification.
In a letter to Burch dated Friday, Graham Sloan, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said the panel voted 5-0 to dismiss the complaint.
An investigation showed that Bolin filed his lawsuit independently of Burch and the Democratic Party, Sloan said in the letter. He said that although the lawyer who filed the suit, Christopher Burks, is employed by the state Democratic Party, he accepted no payment in connection with the suit from the party or anyone else.
The investigation also found that although the suit indirectly benefited Burch, it was not sufficient to be considered a contribution to her campaign.
Hall also alleged Burch ran an ad that prematurely identified her as a state representative. Sloan said in the letter that even if that allegation were true, it would not constitute a violation of any law under the commission’s jurisdiction.