story by Michael Tilley and Roby Brock
Editor's note: Story updated beginning with SEEKING FORGIVENESS section.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Tuesday he will remain in the race for Arkansas governor, ending speculation that a previous admission of an “inappropriate” relationship with a Hot Springs attorney might force him out.
McDaniel admitted Dec. 18 he had an “inappropriate” and “limited interaction” with a Hot Springs attorney in 2011, but details of an alleged affair are limited. The revelation is part of an ongoing domestic dispute in Garland County Circuit Court between Andrea L. “Andi” Davis and her estranged husband, Frederick N. “Fred” Day, two Hot Springs residents involved in a divorce and child custody case.
“There is no other shoe to drop. ... There are no other women,” McDaniel said during the press conference, adding that he is “deeply ashamed” about the incident.
McDaniel said there are a lot of rumors “swirling around” that aren’t true. He also denied using state money or resources during the inappropriate relationship.
Gov. Mike Beebe (D) – who is term limited and unable to run in 2014 – on Tuesday said McDaniel’s “inappropriate” relationship will be a problem in his gubernatorial bid, but Beebe refused to be drawn into a discussion about who should or should not be in the race.
“Well, it’s not helpful. Quantifying how much, I don’t have any idea,” Beebe said when asked how much McDaniel’s affair would hurt his election chances.
McDaniel also said he never considered stepping down as Attorney General.
McDaniel said the affair with Hot Springs attorney Andrea “Andi” Davis was “entirely on me.”
“I was married, she was not. I was the one in a position of public trust,” McDaniel said.
He admitted that he and Davis met “less than a half dozen times” in 2011 after being introduced in late 2010.
In today’s press conference, McDaniel requested forgiveness from Arkansas voters and campaign supporters and emphasized that the affair was an isolated indiscretion.
He stood against a blue backdrop on a dais at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock.
McDaniel’s wife, Bobbi, walked out with him from behind the backdrop, winked as he stepped on to the stage, then sat in the audience. Afterwards, the couple hugged. He said the two of them had “moved on” from the admission and that her “grace” and “forgiveness” had allowed their relationship to remain intact.
“Before I begin, I want to thank and publicly apologize to my wife Bobbi. She is an amazing and wonderful woman who has done nothing to deserve the pain I have caused her. It’s only because of her love and forgiveness that I can stand here today. Bobbi is here with me today but I’ll be handling this press conference on my own. This situation is entirely my fault, so I cannot ask her to stand up here simply for the purpose of easing my burden,” McDaniel said in prepared remarks.
Under questioning from the media, McDaniel said the affair was a lapse of judgment and character and admitting it was “the most painful experience of my life that I can recall.”
McDaniel said today’s press conference was to confess what he had done was “wrong,” but he said he wanted to be “equally clear about what I have not done wrong.”
“I continue to hear that rumors are swirling about whether some other shoe will drop. There is no other shoe to drop. There are no other women. No litigation was ever comprised. No rules of professional conduct were violated. No state resources, dollars or personnel were used for personal purposes,” he said. “I made mistake, for which I have taken and continue to take responsibility.”
He said his staff had no culpability in the affair and that the office of the Attorney General was not compromised in the integrity of its work.
There have been five identified cases in which Davis was an attorney in a matter involving the AG’s office.
“My staff had no knowledge of my personal interaction with Ms. Davis, and it had no bearing on how our office handled the cases involving her,” he said.
He also touched on a murder investigation involving a man named Maxwell Anderson, who was shot at Davis’ home in February 2012. The matter is still under investigation and no charges have been filed.
“I have never communicated with Ms. Davis or anyone else about the facts or circumstances surrounding Mr. Anderson’s death,” McDaniel said. “I have no knowledge of the status of the investigation. The Attorney General’s office has no role or jurisdiction in this investigation, and I have never communicated with law enforcement about it. In short, I don’t know anything about it.”
STAYING IN THE RACE
For now, McDaniel said he intended to weather the storm and remain as a candidate for Governor in 2014. He claimed that no contributors had asked for refunds of their campaign checks and that he hoped to share his vision for Arkansas policy in the near-future.
“We are committed to moving forward with my campaign for governor in 2014. I do so humbly recognizing that I need to earn the second chance I’m asking for. I have loved serving the people of Arkansas, and I hope that I’ll have the opportunity to continue to do so,” he said.
Republican Asa Hutchinson said he intends to run for Governor in 2014 and North Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman has filed exploratory paperwork for the office.