CAPC resignations follow community outcry

Eureka Springs Times-Echo The executive director of the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission is back while two members of the commission, including controversial chair Chris Clifton, and the finance director have resigned after a whirlwind of drama-filled meetings.

During a special meeting held Friday, June 28, the commission reinstated executive director Mike Maloney, who had been suspended with pay on June 14 pending an “investigation.”

“While there are some challenges we have discovered, our staff is again fully engaged to do our jobs for Eureka Springs,” Maloney said in an email to the Times-Echo on Tuesday, July 2. “The support has been amazing and the assistance the City is providing is fantastic.

“I am very pleased to be back at the helm.”

The vote to reinstate Maloney came after an executive session and the same day that Scott Bardin, the CAPC’s finance director and former director, resigned via text message, according to Kim Stryker, assistant to Mayor Butch Berry.

“I can confirm that Scott Bardin resigned his position on CAPC staff by text message at 10:20 a.m. Friday June 28, 2024,” Stryker wrote in an email to the Times-Echo.

Bardin’s resignation came a day after Clifton, who was asked repeatedly during public comments in a June 26 meeting to step down because of his stance on a “Free to Be” marketing campaign, resigned from the commission.

At the June 26 meeting, a vote of confidence in Clifton failed 4-1. The only commissioner to vote yes on that motion, Chris Jones, also resigned the next day, according to Stryker.

“I can confirm both Chris Clifton and Chris Jones resigned their respective CAPC positions on Thursday morning June 27th 2024,” Stryker wrote via email.

The June 26 meeting was attended by an overflow, standing-room only crowd at The Auditorium, with 26 people speaking during public comments.

No confidence

Commissioner Bradley Tate-Greene called for the vote of confidence 3 hours, 20 minutes into the meeting.

“I make a motion for a vote of confidence for chairman Christopher Clifton,” Tate-Greene said, later adding “it’s yes if you are confident or no if you’re not confident.”

Tate-Greene and commissioners David Avanzino, Steve Holifield and Kolin Paulk voted no.

Five days earlier, Tate-Greene had voted in Clifton’s favor on a similar motion. Avanzino and Paulk voted no confidence in Clifton at that special meeting on Friday, June 21. Holifield was not asked for his vote on that motion, with Clifton declaring that the motion had failed.

The 4-1 decision against a vote of confidence at the June 26 meeting led to a roar of applause from those in attendance, with some giving a standing ovation and others whistling.

The ovation was one of many during the meeting, which also included a vote to continue with the slogan “Free to Be” in future city marketing and the reinstatement of an original version of a promotional video — the post-premiere editing of which had been another point of contention with the public and commissioners.


The confidence vote wrapped up a tense meeting that included public comments from more than two dozen speakers, many of whom urged Clifton to resign from the CAPC. Among those voicing their opinions were city council member Autumn Slane, parks and recreation commission members Ruth Hager and Rodd Gray, cemetery commission member David Danvers, former city council member Bill Ott and former mayor and city council member Beau Satori.

“It’s pretty unanimous back here that everybody’s coming up and asking for your resignation,” Gray said. “I think that you know what the right thing to do is tonight. I think you should volunteer to resign because everybody back here is watching you. We will continue to watch you. So, it’s not over.”


The large and vocal crowd attended the meeting after a series of recent events involving Clifton.

A letter was recently sent to a group of stakeholders that indicated it was from the CAPC chair. That letter concerned a new advertising campaign for the city by Madden Media and urged stakeholders to attend workshop that had been scheduled before the June 26 regular meeting. That workshop, however, was canceled on Tuesday, June 25 with no explanation.

The letter accused an unidentified person of trying to “force through” a slogan without input, adding that the message being advanced by that unnamed person aligns with “political and public policy activism messaging.”

“I called the workshop after finding out someone was trying to force through the slogan they preferred without stakeholder involvement or the commission being able to vote,” the letter reads. “In the past we’ve made sure we’ve gotten input on this piece and voted on, when we hired our ad agency we made sure to get stakeholder input, this is just as important and I hope we get it right.

“I did a deeper look when I received a lot of pushback on scheduling the workshop for stakeholder input and insisting on a vote, some were saying I was unilaterally deciding what our slogan would be. Clearly that’s silly if I’m asking for a vote. I took a harder look at the slogan that was being attempted to be forced through, Incidentally the slogan is ‘Free to be.’ In my opinion someone may have been pushing for this slogan behind the scenes as it aligns with their current and past political and public policy activism messaging. I may be wrong, but at the meeting I’ll show you why I think this and you can judge for yourself.”

Later in the letter, the author points out advertising done by well-known companies Disney, Target and Bud Light that have led to revenue losses. All three companies have been in the headlines in recent months regarding LGBTQ and Pride supportive marketing campaigns.

“Many companies take or have taken a social stance in their advertising hoping to appeal to a younger audience, or specific demographic for instance Disney, Target and But Light,” the letter reads. “Bud Light lost 28 percent market share over one commercial, all three above mentioned lost large amounts of revenue.”

At the June 26 meeting, person after person expressed displeasure over the letter and many said they felt it was aimed against the diversity of Eureka Springs.

Speakers also referred to a recent promotional video film that was edited after its premiere, with many saying a short scene featuring a drag queen was removed.

Commissioners later voted unanimously to reinstate the video in its original entirety, drawing a raucous ovation from those in attendance.


Mayor Butch Berry called the recent controversy surrounding the CAPC “unfortunate” and said he was glad that Clifton stepped down.

“I feel it was very unfortunate that the CAPC was forced to go through the (controversy) due to the action of the Chairman,” Berry told the Times-Echo via email. “This could have easily been avoided.

“I was glad to see that ultimately the Chair resigned for the best of the community and the CAPC as a result of the public comments.”