Content partner Jason Tolbert has done a great job of following the Fred Smith story via various news outlets. First, there was the story by Michael Wickline regarding a theft lawsuit filed against against Smith by the Chicot County (AR) prosecutor. This was followed shortly thereafter by a series of posts about Smith’s residence (or non-residence, as the case may be) in Arkansas: a guest post by Trip Cook of the Crittenden County Evening Times, which laid out the evidence against Mr. Smith actually being a resident of the Land of Opportunity Natural State; a post detailing the facts of the special meeting to discuss seating Mr. Smith; and a post mentioning that the House voted 89-1 to seat him.
Most striking among all the posts is the following from the Trip Cook guest post:
I am firmly convinced Smith lives in Mississippi. There are plenty of reasons—he and his wife paid taxes on a home in Walls, MS last year. His organization, Saving Our Children (also called “Save Our Kids”), is linked to the same Walls, MS address. The fax number for the organization has an area code in northern Mississippi (page3). A city property card for the home at 106 Green Street in Crawfordsville where Smith claims he lives actually lists the house’s owner as William Lee Taylor, Sr. The property card also lists a P.O. Box address in Crawfordsville for Taylor – the same P.O. Box that Smith used on his candidacy forms.
Nevertheless, as noted, the House seated Mr. Smith yesterday with but one vote against. Why? Well, as Rep. Ed Garner explained to Progressive Arkansas:
“The evidence from the packet[,] had me thrown in with the idea that there would be no way the commission would vote to seat Smith. Yet the testimony at the hearing was such that — I don’t know whether it’s safe to say this or not, but I thought the case made by the complainant was done so poorly that they basically snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It was that bad.”
Also, in something of an odd twist:
In the course of the hearing, [Willie Gammon of Marion, who ran against Smith as a write-in candidate in the general election for House District 54] also said he believed that if the House voted not to seat Smith, that he, Gammon, would be seated in his place. Garner says this statement betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of how the election process works. If Smith is denied a seat in the House, a vacancy will be announced and the governor will have to call a new special election. The result of Gammon’s statement, Garner says, is that the plaintiff looked ignorant and opportunistic. While the issue was ultimately irrelevant to the question of Smith’s residency, it certainly hurt Gammon’s credibility.
Something tells me this is not the last we’ll hear of Mr. Smith and where he may (or may not) live.