FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – A former Washington County employee alleges in a federal lawsuit that the county judge and other officials retaliated against her for assisting a courthouse employee who supported the judge’s opponent in the November election.
Mandy Przysczpkowski claims County Judge Marilyn Edwards is among those who violated her First Amendment freedom of speech right and other rights after she continued helping Jonathan Jarboe, a computer administrator in the Circuit Clerk’s office, with his county issued purchasing card, or P-Card.
The suit states Edwards threatened to fire Przysczpkowski for helping Jarboe after being told not to help him. Przysczpkowski was fired several months after the threat, according to the lawsuit.
Przysczpkowski’s primary responsibilities with the county included training and directing county workers and officials in the “proper use and reporting of P-Card expenses,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday (Feb. 10) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. (Click here to read the lawsuit.)
Edwards could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday evening.
The lawsuits states Edwards and her chief of staff, Dan Short, “were infuriated and took personal offense” at Jarboe’s “open support” of Edwards’ opponent in the November general election.
Edwards, a Democrat, won re-election in November by 987 votes, defeating Jeff Williams, a Republican who was the county assessor at the time.
According to the lawsuit, Edwards in June told Przysczpkowski, with the chief of staff present, that Jarboe “is the enemy” and was on the “opposing team.”
“Why are you helping (Jarboe) with his P-Card after we told you not to?” Edwards asked Przysczpkowski, according to the lawsuit, and went on to threaten, “I will make sure you are fired.”
The lawsuit asserts Przysczpkowski also supported Williams’ campaign and that she refused to “quell her right to associate with the political party of her choosing.”
After the June meeting, Przysczpkowski was given a poor annual employee evaluation. Only weeks after the November election, she was “falsely accused” of taking a county issued cellphone and was fired, the lawsuit states.
Przysczpkowski is seeking to be compensated for lost wages and benefits, punitive damages and more.