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Sedgwick County Commission formally asks Michael O’Donnell to resign

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 10:22 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Sedgwick County Commission on Wednesday adopted a resolution to censure Commissioner Michael O’Donnell and call for his resignation. It also requested that he decline to serve if re-elected.

Commissioner Jim Howell said it grieved him to read the resolution which stated O’Donnell’s involvement in a secret recording, plotting to shift the blame behind a false attack ad was “not consistent with the democratic ideals of honesty, openness, and accountability, which are stated within Principle 1 of the Code of Ethics Conduct.”

Howell then moved that the resolution be adopted and Commissioner David Dennis seconded the motion.

In reference to the attack ad, “Protect Wichita Girls,” which falsely accused Mayor Brandon Whipple, Commissioner Lacey Cruse said trying to blame an innocent man for “such disgusting act is despicable.” She said she was not shocked by what she heard on the recordings and called it a distraction for the commission and the people of Sedgwick County. She, too, then called on O’Donnell to resign.

“We just heard that our hospitals are full. We are in the middle of a pandemic. This is taking us away from the work of Sedgwick County. That’s what we have to be focused on. So, I’ll close with this. The only way out of this is to resign, is to admit what you did and ask for forgiveness. That is your only way out,” said Cruse.

O’Donnell addressed the board before the vote. He denied “creating, production, script or initiation of the Protect Wichita Girls.” He said he raised money for billboards that was instead spent on the video. Still, he said he was deeply sorry for those he had hurt and he apologized to his fellow commissioners for doing what he called a “dishonorable thing.”

“2020 has been a bad year, for me, for all of us, for our community. I think I’ve changed a lot since that video happened. I lost my father in February and he’s not here for me to talk to get council from on the issue, but that is not an excuse for actions because they were wrong. In closing, to my constituents, my actions in the aftermath of this video were terrible and once again represented a serious lapse in judgment. I apologize for my action. You, the citizens of District 2, deserve better, and I will be better,” O’Donnell said.

He acknowledged the action taken by the board, saying, “I would do the same thing if I were in your shoes. Because it was wrong.” O’Donnell abstained from Wednesday’s vote which passed 4-0.

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