Arkansas lawmakers want probe into alleged attacks on anti-casino canvassers in Pope County

Arkansas lawmakers suspect that the Cherokee Nation blocked canvassing.
Arkansas lawmakers suspect that the Cherokee Nation blocked canvassing.

They suspect there were attacks on people who collected signatures against the casino.

US.- The Joint Performance Review Committee of the Arkansas Legislature has requested an investigation into alleged actions against canvasses campaigning against casino plans in Pope County. Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R- Nashville, said the committee wants state and local law enforcement to investigate the matter.

Last year, Fair Play for Arkansas gathered signatures for a ballot initiative to ask voters to stop a casino from being built in Pope County. The Cherokee Nation, which holds a casino permit, allegedly stopped canvassing efforts. Rep. Pilkington cited an incident in which a canvasser’s home was possibly burned down by a canvasser blocker.

“Because you have shady out-of-state individuals come into Arkansas and try and block this measure. A private investigator shows there was actually evidence arson occurred. There was an accelerant around the door of where the fire started,” Pilkington said. “Those things are extremely disturbing. When we think of democracy here in Arkansas that is like a third world banana republic kind of democracy,” Pilkington said about the lack of deep investigation.

The Pope County prosecutor and Arkansas State Police investigators said they didn’t see evidence that pointed to an intentionally set fire

Lawmakers also want an investigation into an incident where a canvass blocker was allegedly caught on tape bribing a canvasser to throw away the petitions. Rep. Carlton Wing, R-North Little Rock, said he wants to know the impact these actions had on the ballot process.

“It’s important to note if this altered the outcome. I think that’s a fair question to ask. We throw out again this group was gathering petitions. They were 2,000 signatures away from getting to the next milestone, which grants extra time to gather more signatures,” Wing said. With all these considerations in mind, now, the lawmakers want that an investigation will be carried out to show what actually happened.

See also: Arkansas casino gaming handle reaches $633.3m in February

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