Arkansas Republican hampered by old debt

Arkansas House candidate Rick Crawford (R) is being dogged by a 1994 bankruptcy that has emerged as a niggling issue in the race to succeed Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.), who's retiring.

Crawford had indicated that he paid back all of the $12,611.67 debt that was legally dissolved by his bankruptcy, but told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "there is no way I can prove it."

Crawford faces former Berry staffer Chad Causey (D) for the seat.

The Democrat-Gazette subsequently asked him to sign privacy waivers that would allow reporters to confirm whether he had repaid his creditors. Crawford declined and also refused to release the billing records, receipts or a copy of his bankruptcy filing.

"Everything that's in the public realm is there for discernment and debate, but anything outside of the public record is not," Jonah Shumate, Crawford's campaign manager, told the paper. "It's not about proving it; it's about what's on the public record is the public record. That's just where we're going to be on this."

The Causey camp noted there were discrepancies in Crawford's account of his money troubles.

"While the story concerning our opponent's bankruptcy is changing every day, our focus remains the same: creating jobs here in Arkansas, bringing back fiscal responsibility, and getting America back on track," said Candace Martin, Causey's spokesman.

Meanwhile, Crawford has tried to his financial troubles into a positive. 

"In some small way, if my personal experience can help us avoid that type of experience for the country, then I think that experience [bankruptcy] is important and relevant to my campaign," he said.

Crawford, a top prospect of the National Republican Congressional Committee, had previously made government spending an issue in the campaign. 

A Republican strategist insisted the bankruptcy issue would blow over. The strategist noted that Crawford was in his 20s at the time of the bankruptcy and is now a successful small business owner. 

An official with the Causey camp said they're waiting on Crawford's next move before deciding whether to push the issue.

--Updated at 5:15 p.m.

More in House races

Republican wins Arizona House recount

Read more »