The following is a statement from Mike McNeill, owner of Magnolia Reporter LLC and editor and publisher of magnoliareporter.com:
On Thursday afternoon, May 12, magnoliareporter.com received news from the campaign of Arkansas Senate nominee Steve Crowell of Magnolia. The news expressed concern about a piece of mail paid for by McNeil by a group called Truth in Politics 2 IEC on behalf of State Senator Charles Beckham.
Beckham and Crowell are both Republicans and the only candidates for the District 3 seat in the Arkansas Senate. The primary on Tuesday, May 24, will determine which man will serve a four-year term in the State Senate.
One side of the mailpiece shows a photograph of Beckham and some of his endorsements.
On the other side of the mailer is the magnoliareporter.com logo and a headline photo and caption from an article written by JD Bailey for magnoliareporter.com and published on October 26, 2021.
CLICK HERE to view the article in its entirety.
The remainder of the Beckham mailer alleges that Crowell, a member of the Magnolia City Council, got a “sweetheart” deal through which his wife bought a state-owned property formerly known as the Magnolia Regional Medical Center Home Health Clinic at 833 N .Washington was used. The clinic was the home of former Director of the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce and First National Bank President WC Blewster and his wife Agnes many years previously.
Laura Crowell wanted to buy the house for future use by her financial investment advisory firm.
The Beckham mailer incorrectly characterized the sale as a “sweet city government real estate deal.”
magnoliareporter.com has covered the details of the sale at length, including actions taken by Magnolia City Council to avoid any appearance of impropriety in the sale. The city gave each prospect three weeks to bid on it, but it ended up being only two. Crowell’s bid of $70,000 was $40,000 higher than the second place bid.
CLICK HERE for magnoliareporter.com’s Sept. 28 article on the city’s plans to auction the property.
CLICK HERE to see magnoliareporter.com’s report on the sale of the property.
“I cannot allow magnoliareporter.com’s name, likeness, or likeness to be used to mischaracterize or misinform South Arkansas voters about any issue or candidate. The Beckham campaign mailer is doing this, and voters and the media in District 3 must hold the Beckham campaign accountable,” McNeill said.
Later Thursday night, McNeill, on behalf of Magnolia Reporter LLC, sent Beckham a text, email and Facebook message making three demands on his campaign and on Truth in Politics 2 IEC for immediate action.
The letter states in part:
“First, the Charles Beckham for Senate campaign and Truth in Politics 2 IEC and all related efforts will stop use of the Magnolia Reporter logo, photograph or text. This material is copyrighted and I believe you, your campaign and Truth in Politics 2 IEC are a violation of our copyright.
“Second, Magnolia Reporter LLC requires that all unmailed copies of the disputed mailpiece be promptly destroyed and that such or any future mailpieces that may already be in transit to the United States Postal Service be recalled and destroyed.
“Third, Magnolia Reporter LLC would like a written apology from you and your campaign, and from Truth in Politics 2 IEC for this unauthorized use.
“I further request that the actions requested above be completed by noon on Friday, May 13, 2022,” McNeill’s letter said.
Late Friday morning, Beckham sent the following email to magnoliareporter.com.
“Charles Beckham’s campaign for the State Senate is consistent with Ark. Code Ann § 7-6-201 Section (11) (B) and (C) and the Arkansas Ethics Commission Rules on the Independent Expenditure Committee § 700 (c), nominee or any authorized committee or representative of the nominee is prohibited from dealing with to agree to cooperate or consult with the Independent Expenditure Committee,” the email said.
“Blaming a so-called independent committee responsible for the mailer is the ‘it wasn’t me, it was my evil twin’ excuse,” McNeill said. McNeill said he considered the Beckham email a non-response and that Magnolia Reporter LLC’s claims are still valid.