story by Ryan Saylor
Allegations of an abortion and past arrests have thrown a wrench in the race for state representative in District 76, just as early voting began earlier in the week.
The allegations, reported first by Matt Campbell of the left-leaning Blue Hog Report blog, also appear to indicate that Republican Bobby Altes — the son of term-limited Rep. Denny Altes — has apparently had two criminal charges brought against him and has been late on child support.
In the article, Campbell points out that one of Altes' ex-wives went to the police with allegations of abuse, with Altes eventually being charged with third degree domestic battery in 2006. The couple separated later that year.
The article also details missed child support payments of $100 per month for children Altes had with the same woman, with Altes' ex-wife eventually filing a motion for contempt in August 2007.
In addition to the allegations of domestic battery and failure to pay child support, Campbell's article also included a March 7, 2006, report from the Sebastian County Sheriff's Department that detailed an alleged aggravated assault at the hands of Altes.
The incident report from the Sheriff's Department alleged that Altes pulled a .357 revolver on Jerry Clardy, a former employee, when the man came to Altes' office 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."
In the report, an officer with the Sheriff's Department reported that when reached for comment, Altes did not deny the incident.
"Mr. Altus stated that because of Mr. Clardy's size he (Robert Altus) was afraid for his safety," the report read. "Mr. Altus stated that he then reached into his desk and took out a .357 revolver and placed it on the desk and told Mr. Clardy to leave. Mr. Altus stated that Mr. Clardy then returned the checks and left the building."
Campbell's article also stated that a second woman with whom Altes allegedly fathered a child filed a petition for failure to pay child support in September 2011.
Perhaps most damaging of all were allegations that Altes impregnated another woman who he was married to and drove her to a Tulsa, Okla., abortion clinic where the pregnancy was terminated.
A document linked to the article appears to show a receipt for an abortion, with the woman's maiden name listed on the receipt.
Multiple attempts to contact Altes and his father on their cell phones were unsuccessful, as were calls to Altes Sanitation Service, with a female who answered the phone stating that both men would be out of the office for the rest of Wednesday.
Sebastian County Republican Party Chairman Rex Terry released a statement and said he was assured by Altes before he announced his run for state representative that "nothing in his past conduct" would be a problem.
"I was disappointed and sorry to learn about the disclosures regarding Bobby Altes, a Republican candidate for House District 76. It is of particular concern to me since when I spoke with him months ago about the possibility of running for office, he assured me there was nothing in his past conduct that if disclosed, would reflect poorly on himself, the people of the district, or the Republican party. That appears not to be the case," Terry noted. "Leadership descends from character. Personal character is, for me, the most important attribute of anyone who seeks election to political office. The public has a right to know the truth about their candidates, and we should all be thankful for a free press when it exercises its constitutional duty of reporting facts that are of vital importance to an informed electorate."
Mat Pitsch, Altes' opponent in the District 76 Republican primary, did release a statement to The City Wire in which he called the allegations against Altes "a sad story on many fronts."
Early voting for the Republican primary has already begun. The primary will take place May 20. With no Democratic challenger, the winner of the District 76 race will become the district's next state representative.