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Advisory board joins Wichita City Council in condemning actions of elected officials involved in false attack ad

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 4:02 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 11:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Wednesday night, Oct. 28, 2020: Some voters in south Wichita say they’re upset by the man representing them at City Hall. Wednesday night, members of the District 3 Advisory Board voted to condemn Wichita City Council member James Clendenin in a vote of no confidence.

Clendenin is accused of raising funds for the false attack ad against then Wichita mayoral candidate Brandon Whipple and is heard in a recently-released recording with Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell and state representative Michael Capps, appearing to conspire to blame others. During a Zoom meeting streamed on Facebook Live Wednesday night, dozens of people criticized Clendenin’s behavior and said that he should resign.

“There is no doubt that’s me on the recording. I don’t refute that,” Clendenin said. “I’m going through the legal process to tell my side of the story. I know that’s not enough for some people.”

According to bylaws, if Clendenin were to resign, the district advisory board would screen his potential replacements and give their recommendations to the city council which would have the final say in who would fill the vacant seat.

Tuesday, Clendenin’s fellow Wichita City Council members condemned his actions and asked him to resign. Clendenin has not indicated that he plans to do so.

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020:

The Wichita City Council adopted a resolution on Tuesday condemning the actions of three elected officials involved in a false attack and supporting an investigation launched into the matter on Monday by the Sedgwick County District Attorney.

The investigation follows the release of secret recordings of City Councilman James Clendenin, Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell and Kansas House Representative Michael Capps attempting to shift blame for the false attack ad to others within the Sedgwick County Republican Party.

The attack was against then Mayoral candidate Brandon Whipple. Whipple recused himself from Tuesday’s meeting and voting citing personal and professional conflicts. He is suing the three men mentioned above for the false claims.

Vice Mayor Cindy Claycomb presided over the meeting. She said the resolution adopted by the council followed an outcry from voters. Claycomb read the resolution which condemned the officials' behavior but clarified that “municipal governing bodies have no legal authority to remove fellow elected officials for any violation, the Wichita City Council finds it incumbent to publicly address the situation to the extent to which it has authority to do so.”

The resolution went on to demand that “Council Member James Clendenin consider the will of his constituents in the City of Wichita’s 3rd Council District as he makes decisions about the future of his term as a City Council Member.”

Claycomb called for the resolution to be adopted. Clendenin opened the discussion.

“I just wanted to say that I’ve read and understand this resolution. I will fully cooperate with the investigation. Due to that investigation and legal matter, I will be abstaining from this vote, and I appreciate your consideration in this matter,” said Clendenin.

Councilman Brandon Johnson said he was disappointed when he heard the audio recording. He said he listened to it multiple times and each time “it was worse than before.” Johnson said there’s no place in politics for what he heard on the recording. He said if it were him, he would step down.

“I just hope that going forward and for future campaigns, for future elections, that we do not exhibit that behavior. Wichita is better than that. And personally speaking, I believe that anyone that engages in that kind of behavior does not, should not, have the honor of representing the people in public office. And I know that, if it were me, I would not stay in this seat because that, Wichita deserves better,” Johnson said.

Councilman Jeff Blubaugh said he hoped to see more clean campaigning in the future.

“We need to focus our campaigns on what we do right for the community instead of spending months and months trying to dig up dirt on people or fabricating things. I think we’ve gotta turn this around. We don’t want Wichita known for this,” Blubaugh said.

Councilwoman Becky Tuttle said she expected to be inundated with phone calls and texts and emails from constituents and community members on the matter, but she wanted to remind people about what action the council is allowed to take.

“I just want to reinforce, it’s in the resolution, but as a city council, as the municipal governing body, we have no ability to remove someone from office. So, I just wanted to highlight that. The voters in District 2 (sic) made their choice for Councilmember Clendenin when they voted for him and they are the only ones that are able to change that decision,” said Tuttle.

Clendenin represents Wichita’s third district. The District 3 Advisory Board will hold a special virtual meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday to address the recent allegations.

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