SPRINGDALE — Rep. Clint Penzo’s R-Springdale state senate campaign used a photograph of an Arkansas State Police trooper without the trooper’s permission and despite the trooper’s understanding that the photo would never be used for political purposes, state police confirmed Tuesday. .
The campaign flyer shows Cpl. Jesse Woodham of L Troop in Springdale standing with Penzo. Penzo said Tuesday that Woodham is a friend from school and had previously posted the photo without objection.
“On March 8, 2022, during a bill signing ceremony (HB 1026) authorizing salary increases and a new salary grid for Arkansas State Troopers, Private Woodham was approached by Rep. Penzo asking her to pose with him for a photo,” State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said. said Tuesday in an email.
“According to Private, it was made clear to Rep. Penzo that such a photograph could not be used as an endorsement or in any future campaign publicity. I was told that Private Woodham’s Supervising Sergeant was present and understood the agreement reached between the two.
“As I write a response to your request, Private Woodham makes a phone call to Rep. Penzo reminding him of the agreement and asking him to cease and desist from any use of the photo.”
Penzo confirmed the photo was taken after the police bounty signing ceremony in a statement on Tuesday afternoon: “I asked for his permission to use the photo and posted it on March 10. J I also used the photo in a letter reaffirming my support for law enforcement. I was unaware that this was an issue. I was in no way implying support from state troopers for my campaign, but rather my support for the men and women who serve and protect the citizens of Arkansas.
Penzo’s flyer does not name Woodham or mention the state police. He cites pro-public safety and prison expansion bills that Penzo voted for. The photo shows Woodham in his state police uniform, including the department’s distinctive wide-brimmed hat.
“Unfortunately my opponent is playing politics instead of supporting blue,” Penzo said.
Penzo is running against Lisa Parks of Tontitown, a lawyer and Democrat, in the race for State Senate District 31. Early voting is underway. Election day is Tuesday.
Penzo’s actions appear to have put a police officer’s career “in jeopardy,” Parks said in a statement. “The irony is not lost on voters, and I can’t imagine they would approve of such blatant exploitation of law enforcement for political gain.”
The State Police is part of the State Department of Public Safety. The department’s code of ethics prohibits the use of “organization identification, stationery, supplies and equipment for personal or political business.”