story by Ryan Saylor
Editor's note: Story updated with statement from Bobby Altes' campaign.
Bobby Altes, a Republican candidate for state representative in District 76, is staying in the primary race and may push back with legal action to counter reports that detailed past allegations of domestic abuse, assault charges, and an allegation of an abortion by one of Altes' ex-wives.
In a Thursday afternoon (May 8) telephone conversation with The City Wire, Altes addressed the allegations in the article – which stemmed from a report first posted by the left-leaning Blue Hog Report –and said he was cleared of any wrongdoing in both criminal cases. (See his full media statement at the end of this report.)
"There's allegations of that, but I've never been charged with anything criminal, much less convicted of anything criminal," he said, adding that "there's two sides to every story."
He also said District 76 voters should not let the reports influence their vote, adding that he will not drop out of the May 20 Republican primary.
"My personal life has never interfered with my business life nor would interfere with my political life. It's a last minute attack and it's a pretty ugly one at that."
Altes, the son of outgoing Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, said the allegation of domestic battery dating back to 2006 was baseless and charges against him in that case were dropped.
"More or less, it was an argument and then, like I said, there was no charges brought because there was no evidence or any kind of physical contact, if you would. There was no…it was dropped. The charges were dropped. There was just nothing to it."
The other criminal case involving Altes stemmed from a March 7, 2006, incident in which Altes confirms that he brandished a handgun during an altercation involving a former employee. According to a Sebastian County Sheriff's Department incident report, Jerry Clardy claimed Altes pulled the gun when he went to Altes' business to pick up his last paycheck.
"Mr. Clardy stated that when he asked Mr. Altes for his paperwork and his payroll information that was visible on Mr. Altes' desk, he then reached for the payroll information and told Mr. Altes that he would give the paperwork to his last supervisor, Bill," the report read. "At this point Mr. Altes pulled a .357 Magnum (revolver) and point it at him while telling him to get away from his desk and Mr. Clardy immediately dropped the paperwork and walked away while Mr. Altes had the handgun pointed at him."
During the conversation with The City Wire, Altes said he feared for his life during the confrontation with Clardy at which time he opened a desk drawer and displayed the gun, identified in the incident report as a .357 Magnum Revolver.
"The law says if you feel threatened for your life, then you're within your rights to protect yourself," he said. "And there (was) this guy…it seemed to me that he smelled of alcohol when he came in. There were other people who witnessed it. He came in and he was agitated and he was threatening. And then like the report says, he starts ripping papers up off the desk. I just basically pulled the desk drawer back and there was a pistol in there. I said, 'You need to put my papers down and leave.' That defused the situation. Like I said, I don't know why it wasn't in the report, (but) there were threats that were made and it was a pretty tense situation."
During the altercation, Altes alleges that Clardy "said something about he was going to get me. I don't know much beyond that. That's been a while back."
Regarding allegations by Altes' second ex-wife that her drove he to a Tulsa, Okla., abortion clinic to terminate the pregnancy, Altes denied the charge and said if his ex-wife did abort one of his children, she did so without his blessing.
"Right, that would be against my wishes," he said.
Altes made clear that he did not know about the abortion or whether it even occurred.
"Correct. And I don't know. I've seen some paperwork, but I don't know the validity of it."
As a result, Altes said he would be releasing a statement to the media later Thursday stating that he would pursue legal action against his ex-wife as a result of the allegations she made against him. As for what the legal action could be, Altes would not say.
"I don't want to say too much or anything since there is legal action pending."
Regarding a statement from Sebastian County Republican Party Chairman Rex Terry that Altes misled him about his past behavior and how it could harm the party, Altes declined to comment "at this moment," adding that he was shocked at all of the allegations included in the Blue Hog Report article.
BOBBY ALTES STATEMENT
I wish when I married that it would be happy ever after but life had other plans. Some of you might even understand through your own experiences. I am not perfect. I've had some disappointments in my past, but I've grown from them.
I deny the allegations that I have been accused of. I have never forced anyone to do anything, nor do I have control over their decisions. I have never been charged or convicted of any crime. I have paid every dime of support and have never been held in contempt of court.
There are two ways to win an election. You can work hard and shake the hand of those you hope to serve and listen to their concerns, or you can make up lies and half truths and throw mud to try to win.
My opponent underestimated me as a challenger. Now he's tried to dig up dirt, contacting exes and encouraging them to smear me. Perhaps he should have worked harder and met the constituents.
I choose to take the high road and not to release negative information about my opponent. It saddens me that this has become a smear campaign and that parties have chosen sides who should have remained neutral.
My personal life has never interfered with my professional life nor would it in my public life. I remain dedicated to getting Fort Smith back to work, good schools, and local control.