Ken Aden, a Democrat running in the 3rd Congressional District, said the father of Rep. Steve Womack insinuated in a radio broadcast Friday that the killing of a cat owned by Aden campaign manager Jake Burris was a campaign publicity stunt.
“To make unfounded accusations that Jake Burris, any member of this campaign or any supporters of it, would use the murder of a family cat, loved by children, to gain any amount of publicity or to raise a dime of money, is beyond disgusting. I’d say it’s inhumane,” Aden said in a news release emailed Tuesday from the Arkansas Democratic Party.
Aden asked Kermit Womack, owner of KURM-AM 790 in Rogers and father of Steve Womack, for an apology. Steve Womack, a Republican and former Rogers mayor, is seeking re-election to a second two-year term.
“The honorable action here certainly would be an apology relative to the comments made, be them public or private,” Aden said.
Kermit Womack said Tuesday he never insinuated the Aden campaign was responsible for the cat’s death and added there is nothing to apologize for. He said Aden’s campaign seems to be seeking publicity “by talking about this non-news event.”
“I have said before that this cat is not going to have nine lives,” Kermit Womack said. “I am a pet lover and regret that anybody’s cat is put asunder.”
On an audio clip of almost five minutes provided by the state Democratic Party, Womack says a campaign short of funding will “resort to tricks.” He does not say the Aden campaign is responsible for the cat’s death.
Burris, Aden’s campaign manager since October, said his children discovered the cat dead on the front porch of their Russellville home earlier this month. The word “liberal” was scrawled on the cat’s body.
Burris filed an incident report with the Russellville Police Department and contacted the FBI.
Aden said authorities are continuing to investigate the killing of the Burris family cat.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. That reward is in addition to a $2,500 reward offered by The Humane Society of the United States.
Aden has appeared on CNN, saying he doesn’t think Womack’s campaign is responsible for killing the cat.
Beau Walker, a Womack spokesman, said in a statement the act was “beyond any standard of decency.”
Officer Joshua McMillian, Russellville Police Department spokesman, said if a suspect is arrested, that person will face a felony charge of animal cruelty.