KNWA’s Step-By-Step Process Investigating Bribery Claims in Bentonville

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — An allegation of wrongdoing has escalated tension in the race for Bentonville mayor. Alex Caprariello covered this story and provides a step-by-step process on the day’s drama. 

Thursday morning, I received an anonymous tip that Bentonville mayoral candidate, Jim Webb, offered a city administrative position to former candidate, John Skaggs, in exchange for his endorsement. It’s an allegation that Webb has adamantly denied. 

“It was a brief conversation and I cut him off because I wasn’t interested in accepting any positions, any jobs for the city, in exchange for my endorsement,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs says Webb called him and offered him a job, something he says he immediately denied. 

“I certainly don’t want him to get in trouble, I just felt it was an inappropriate, if not illegal, thing for him to do,” Skaggs said.

I reached out to Webb as soon as I got off the phone with Skaggs. He denied the allegations and said he was simply talking to Skaggs about working city-wide issues, including fixing the dam on Lake Bella Vista. 

“I told John that I was looking forward to working with him on getting the dam removed. That’s all I said,” Webb said. “I’ve had phone calls with him but I’ve never offered him anything in terms of administration goes.”  

Later, when I was doing my live report for KNWA News at 6, Webb interrupted the broadcast and stepped into the frame uninvited. I had previously agreed to an interview with Webb via his campaign manager once the live shot was complete. After realizing he was standing behind me, I invited him into the shot.

Webb refused an additional interview to clear the air which would be used for this story. 

Before the live shot, I spoke with Stephanie Orman, Jim Webb’s opponent. She said she was made aware of the allegations last week when Skagg’s sent her an e-mail about the situation. She told me she sent that information to the FBI so it can investigate. I’ve reached out to the FBI and have yet to hear back. 

Webb could be in violation of Arkansas code, according to a general provision outlined under elections. 

A candidate, offering an appointment in exchange of support, is considered a misdemeanor offense. 

The provision states it’s unlawful for a person to offer to appoint, attempt to influence, or offer to influence someone to an office or position in exchange for the appointment, nomination, or election of any candidate in any election in Arkansas. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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