State Sen. Charles Beckham, R-McNeil, has received a public letter of caution from the Arkansas Ethics Commission in a settlement of a complaint filed against him, according to commission records.
Beckham signed a settlement offer in which he agreed with the commission finding that he violated Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203 (g) (5) as a candidate in state Senate District 12 during the 2020 election cycle by accepting campaign contributions for that election after the date of the election in excess of the funds necessary to retire his campaign debt, commission Director Graham Sloan said in a letter dated Dec. 21 to Beckham.
Sloan said Friday that in a written statement to this newspaper that Beckham initially reported the campaign contributions on his final campaign finance report for the 2020 general election.
At the time the campaign contributions were received, Beckham could accept contributions to retire his 2020 campaign debt and could also accept contributions for the 2022 election, Sloan said. Beckham amended his final campaign finance report to remove the additional contributions as having been for retirement of the 2020 campaign debt and filed a campaign finance report for the fourth quarter reflecting the contributions as having been received for the 2022 election, he said.
Sloan said in his letter to Beckham that Hannah Bruner filed the ethics complaint against him.
Sloan said Bruner's complaint indicated that Beckham was legally allowed to raise $17,367.12 to retire his campaign debt, but he raised funds after election day in an amount that far exceeded that campaign debt. The complaint indicated Beckham's final campaign finance report shows a transfer of carryover funds of $27,859.76, and he violated state law by receiving contributions that exceeded the amount of his campaign debt by more than $25,000, Sloan said.
Beckham said Friday that he cooperated every step of the way with the Ethics Commission.
"It was an honest mistake," he said. "I wasn't trying to deceive anyone."