Bentonville Mayoral Candidate Denies Offering Rival Job For Endorsement

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — A Bentonville mayoral candidate on Friday (Nov. 16) denied a charge that he offered a job to a former opponent in exchange for his endorsement.

Jim Webb, who is in a runoff with Stephanie Orman to lead the state's ninth largest city, said the allegation is "patently false."

John Skaggs, a retired attorney and former Benton County district judge, said Webb spoke to him on Nov. 8 and asked for his endorsement in exchange for a "job."

Skaggs, 73, didn't provide details about the position Webb allegedly offered, just that Webb said the word "job." Skaggs said he told Webb he wasn't interested and ended the conversation.

Webb told 5NEWS that Skaggs' statements were a part of a "smear campaign" from Orman and that he would still seek Skaggs' expertise if elected.

"Good leaders pull people that have expertise in a certain area together and work together to find common-sense solutions," Webb said, referring to the ongoing saga with the faulty dam at Lake Bella Vista.

"That's what I was trying to do with Mr. Skaggs. I'd like to lean on him moving forward to get that dam removed. Unfortunately, Ms. Orman turned this into a smear campaign."

Skaggs, who endorsed Orman, said Webb also asked if he could stay neutral during the runoff election.

Jim Webb, Stephanie Orman

Skaggs said he was unsure if he would make any sort of formal complaint.

Orman, who was elected to the Bentonville City Council in 2014, said she couldn't comment on Skaggs' allegations, but "for ethical reasons" she sent what information she received to the FBI's field office in Little Rock.

She declined to provide details about the information she received and referred questions to the FBI, which declined to comment.

State law bars anyone from offering to appoint anyone to an office or position of trust in consideration of the "support or assistance of the person for any candidate in any election" in Arkansas, according to Arkansas Code Annotated 7-1-103.

Violating that statute is a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Anyone convicted under this law is also barred from holding any office or employment with the state.

Webb received 5,595 votes (43 percent) in the Nov. 6 general election. Orman finished second with 5,193 votes (40 percent), according to unofficial results from the Benton County Election Commission.

In Arkansas, if a candidate receives a plurality of 40 percent of the votes, they must obtain at least 20 percent more of the votes cast for the second place candidate to avoid a runoff.

Orman, 43, works as the director of social media and community involvement with McLarty Daniel Automotive Group.

She campaigned on her experience as an alderwoman, noting that she "wants to engage and sit down and understand the issues and address it directly."

She also said she would be the "community's mayor" and that her "door would always be open."

Outgoing Mayor Bob McCaslin, who has held the post since 2006, endorsed Orman in September.

Webb, 37, was elected to city council in 2014 but had to resign in 2016 when he moved out of the ward he represented. He is a senior national manager at Backyard Discovery/Leisure Time.

On the campaign trail, Webb said he was the only candidate who wouldn't raise taxes or push for a capital improvement bond.

"We've got to do an aggressive budget review and eliminate wasteful spending," Webb said.

Early voting for the general election runoff beings Nov. 27. Election day is Dec. 4.