A Republican candidate for governor wants Arkansans to give her their vote, and in return, she would like to give them a chance to win a gun.
However, the giveaway may have shot the former local television reporter’s campaign in the foot.
Nate Bell, a former state representative, accused Jan Morgan Sunday of raising funds through an “illegal lottery.”
Morgan posted a page to her website that read, “Donate for a chance to win this Jan Morgan signature engraved Kimber micro 9!” She has since removed it.
Attorneys and state agencies point to the Arkansas Constitution, which states raffles like this are prohibited. The legislature created some limited exceptions a few years back if the giveaways served a charitable or non-political purpose, but this does not appear to fall under that.
Other Arkansans walking around the River Market Monday got in on the debate.
“It sounds like a direct attempt to buy someone’s influence,” said Eric Pinter. “I like the idea of it as being entertaining. I don’t know that I like the idea for a governor’s race. I mean, it seems a little silly.”
Out-of-state voters who have not heard Morgan’s name also weighed in.
“It should be legal to do that kind of thing,” said John terHorst from Ohio. “Brings more into the fund and helps out the campaign. A person’s really not going to fund the campaign just for the car. Well, I guess they might, but that’s not the brightest idea.”
“That’s sort of like you’re trying to buy my vote or something,” said Andrea Savala from Missouri. “I mean, I shouldn’t be enticed to vote for you because I’m thinking I’ll receive or get my name put into a drawing for a gun of all things.”
Graham Sloan, the director of the Arkansas Ethics Commission, said this matter would not fall under his jurisdiction, rather a prosecuting attorney. For that reason, if someone filed an ethics complaint solely on Morgan’s post, Sloan said odds are it would be dismissed.
We reached out to the office of the 18th Judicial District East Prosecuting Attorney, but have yet to hear back.
“If it is indeed not legal, there should probably be at least an ethics investigation or some sort of lawsuit,” Pinter said.
Others say leave it up to the voters come May 22.
“Either I’m going to vote for you because you’re a candidate that I want to vote for or not, not based on what you want to give me,” Savala said.
A request for comment from Morgan has not yet been returned.
Early voting for the primary election starts in one week.