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Crawford County Candidates’ Election Eligibility Under Investigation

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VAN BUREN (KFSM) — The eligibility of two Crawford County candidates is under investigation due to misdemeanor convictions of a sexual nature from their pasts.

According to Bill Taylor with the Crawford County Election Commission, an entire list of candidates running for office was turned over to the county prosecutor.

In return, Crawford County Prosecutor Mark McCune said he turned the investigation over to the Arkansas State Police.

The investigation is questioning the eligibility of Republican sheriff candidate Bradley Sanderson and Republican county judge candidate Franklin Lewis.

According to Crawford County court records, Sanderson was found guilty of public sexual indecency in 2001.

Lewis was found guilty of patronizing a prostitute in 2004 and 2009, according to Sebastian County court records.

Charges against both candidates are misdemeanor crimes.

Taylor said election ballots with the two candidates names on them arrived at the Crawford County courthouse on Thursday (Jan. 14). He said the candidates names will appear before voters regardless of the outcome of the investigation.

Now, the Crawford County Election Commission is waiting on an answer from the Crawford County prosecutor.

“After he tells us what we need to do or don’t do, then we will have to communicate with the secretary of state. I gather the ruling will come from the Arkansas attorney general,” Taylor said.

According to the candidate handbook, a person running for county and township offices would be ineligible if convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, forgery, or other infamous crimes.

The definition of infamous crime is “a crime judged infamous because it constitutes treason or a felony, because it involves moral turpitude of a nature that creates a strong presumption that the one guilty is unworthy of belief in a court of law, or because its subjects the one guilty to infamy.”

It’s an interpretation Taylor said he will wait to hear from the prosecuting attorney and the Arkansas attorney general.

Both candidates were contacted by 5NEWS for comment. Both said they would like to comment on the matter once a decision on eligibility has been made.

As of Thursday, McCune said a decision has not been made and he has not received word that Arkansas State Police are finished investigating.