FORT SMITH — A former part-time scanning clerk claims in a federal lawsuit that his firing by Sebastian County’s first-year circuit clerk was politically motivated.

FORT SMITH — A former part-time scanning clerk claims in a federal lawsuit that his firing by Sebastian County’s first-year circuit clerk was politically motivated.


Harlan Gann charges Circuit Clerk Denora Coomer fired him because he supported her primary opponent in 2012.


"Plaintiff’s termination was retaliation by the defendant for plaintiff’s protected First Amendment speech during the election campaign," according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith.


Gann was one of three employees Coomer fired when she took office Jan. 1. His lawsuit also accuses Coomer of libel.


In his complaint, Gann said he was an "outspoken supporter" of former Circuit Clerk Ken Blevins in the 2012 Republican primary against Coomer and actively campaigned for Blevins.


After Coomer defeated Blevins in the primary and won the general election, she told Gann she intended to fire him when she was sworn in and encouraged him to resign, according to the complaint.


When he did not resign, Coomer fired Gann. He appealed her decision to the Sebastian County Grievance Committee, which upheld his firing. Gann’s lawsuit claims the circuit clerk intentionally presented false statements to the panel about his work.


He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.


Coomer said she is aware of the lawsuit but had not been served would reserve comment until after she is served.


————


Jeff Arnold writes for the Times Record in Fort Smith.