Linda Collins-Smith

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Linda Collins-Smith
Member of the Arkansas Senate
from the 19th district
In office
January 2015 – January 2019
Preceded byDavid Wyatt
Succeeded byJames Sturch
Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives
from the 61 district
In office
January 2011 – January 2013
Preceded byDavid R. Cook
Succeeded byJames Sturch
Personal details
Born(1962-04-17)April 17, 1962[1]
Pocahontas, Arkansas, U.S.[1]
Diedc. June 4, 2019(2019-06-04) (aged 57)
Pocahontas, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (2011–2019)
Other political
affiliations
Democratic (before 2011)
Spouse(s)Philip Smith (div. 2018)
Children2
ProfessionHotelier

Linda F. Collins-Smith (April 17, 1962 – c. June 4, 2019) was an American politician who served as a Republican member of the Arkansas Senate from Pocahontas, Arkansas.[2]

Career[edit]

Since at least 2009, Collins-Smith owned and operated the Days Inn in Pocahontas.[3][4]

Prior to her Senate service, Collins-Smith was a one-term member from 2011 to 2013 of the Arkansas House of Representatives from District 80.[3] Though elected as a Democrat, she switched parties in August 2011, eight months after taking office.[2][5]

In redistricting, Collins-Smith was moved to the same district as Republican incumbent Lori Benedict, so chose to run for the Arkansas Senate in the 19th district, rather than challenge her.[6] Incumbent Democratic Senator David Wyatt defeated her in the 2012 general election, but on November 4, 2014, she beat Democrat James McLean for the seat. Wyatt died shortly thereafter.

In 2017, Collins-Smith introduced Senate Bill 774, the Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act, which would prohibit people, including transgender people, from entering government restrooms or changing facilities designated for the opposite sex, as it pertains to "a person’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.”[7][8] She said the bill would set a baseline for privacy across the state and shield public schools from lawsuits by organizations "seeking to impose their anti-privacy agenda on our children."[9] It did not pass.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Collins-Smith was married to Philip Smith, a circuit court judge who was disgraced after a 2017 scandal.[4] She filed for divorce that November.[10] They had two children and three grandchildren.[1]

Death[edit]

On June 4, 2019, a decomposing body was found in a blanket outside Collins-Smith's home in Pocahontas, with an apparent gunshot wound.[4] Her neighbors reported hearing gunfire "a day or two" before, according to her former press secretary.[11] On June 6, Arkansas State Police announced it was positively identified as hers, and that a homicide investigation was underway with the Randolph County Sheriff's Department. They did not confirm a cause of death.[12]

On June 11, a public memorial service and press conference were held on the second floor of the Arkansas State Capitol building. Its press release and her local obituary gave her surname as "Collins", omitting the "Smith" she retained during her divorce.[10] Her private funeral and burial in Pocahontas are scheduled for June 15.[1]

On June 14, Arkansas State Police arrested Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell of Pocahontas, a former campaign worker and personal friend of Collins-Smith, in connection with her death. On June 17, she was charged with murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.[13][14][15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Linda F. Collins of Pocahontas, Arkansas: 1962 - 2019". Fears Family Funeral Home.
  2. ^ a b "Rep. Collins-Smith Joins Republican Ranks (updated)". Talkbusiness.net. August 8, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Local News: Collins-Smith seeks District 80 State Rep position (07/09/09)". Area Wide News. July 9, 2009. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Former state senator found dead from gunshot wound". Magnolia Reporter. June 4, 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  5. ^ Andrew Demillo (August 10, 2011). "Arkansas Rep. Linda Collins-Smith switches to GOP". Deseret News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  6. ^ Tammy Curtis (November 26, 2011). "Local News: Collins-Smith announces State Senate candidacy". Area Wide News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  7. ^ "New bill specifies use of bathrooms in Arkansas government buildings". Arkansas Online. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act (SB 774)", Rewire.News Legislative Tracker
  9. ^ TEGNA. "Ark. legislator proposes 'bathroom bill' after other legislator withdraws previous bill". KTHV. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Michael Hibblen (June 10, 2019). "Services Scheduled For Former Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith". KUAR.
  11. ^ "Former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith reportedly found shot to death at her home", by Morgan Winsor, ABC News
  12. ^ "Arkansas police investigating former state senator's death as a homicide". CBS News.
  13. ^ "Arrest made in connection to death of Linda Collins-Smith". THV11. June 17, 2019 [June 14, 2019].
  14. ^ Ashe Schow (June 15, 2019). "Arrest Made In Connection With Shooting Death Of Former Arkansas State Senator". Daily Wire.
  15. ^ Andrew Demillo (June 17, 2019). "Arkansas woman charged with murder in ex-senator's killing". Houston Chronicle. AP.

External links[edit]

Arkansas Senate
Preceded by
David W. Wyatt
Arkansas State Senator for
District 19 (including Randolph County)

2015–2019
Succeeded by
James Sturch
Arkansas House of Representatives
Preceded by
David R. Cook
Arkansas State Representative for
District 80 (Crawford and Washington counties)

2011–2013
Succeeded by
Charlene Fite