Washington County Employee Files Federal Suit, Claiming Political Retaliation

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – Another  Washington County employee claims in a federal lawsuit filed on Thursday (June 11) that top county officials retaliated against him for supporting the county judge’s political opponent in last year’s election.

Jonathan Jarboe, the computer administrator in the Circuit Clerk’s office, claims County Judge Marilyn Edwards is among those who violated his First Amendment freedom of speech right and other rights for “openly” supporting Jeff Williams, a Republican then serving as county assessor, in the 2014 county judge’s race.

Also named as defendants are Dan Short, the county judge’s chief of staff, and John Adams, the county’s director of information technology.

Edwards, a Democrat, won re-election in November 2014, defeating Williams by 987 votes.

The lawsuit contents the three officials ordered the IT department to block Jarboe’s access to county computers and, among other retaliations, changed his title from “computer administrator” to “office manager.”

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Jarboe is being represented by Joshua Bailey of the Morton Law Group in Fayetteville.

This is the fourth federal lawsuit filed against the county since December by current and former employees. Road worker George Braswell filed a lawsuit in December, pointing to faulty bridge construction in the county, and former county employee Mandy Przysczpkowski sued the county in February, alleging she was retaliated against for supporting Jeff Williams in the 2014 election.

Also, former Washington County Road Department employee Brandon Holland filed a federal lawsuit in April, saying he was demoted and ultimately fired after saying he supported Williams in the election.

The previous lawsuits have not been resolved. The Morton Law Group also is handing those lawsuits.

County officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday night.

Click here to read Jarboe’s lawsuit.