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DA files petition to oust Wichita city councilman embroiled in false attack ad investigation

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 3:49 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita City Councilmember James Clendenin now faces ouster proceedings following an investigation by District Attorney Marc Bennett. The news came in a release from the DA’s office Wednesday morning.

The petition stems from a 2019 false attack ad targeting then Mayoral candidate Brandon Whipple. FactFinder 12 has been following the developments for over a year.

In the petition, Bennett states that Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, Clendenin and State Representative Michael Capps worked together to produce the ad and conspired to pass blame along to Sedgwick County GOP Chair Dalton Glasscock.

The district attorney laid out three counts in his petition seeking Clendenin’s ouster for wrongdoing while in office.

In count one, Bennett said Clendenin aided and abetted criminal false communication by raising money for the ad. Clendenin said he believed he was raising money for a billboard campaign, not a video attack ad, but the petition filed Wednesday states that at no time did Clendenin question why the money he raised was used for the video.

Count two details a meeting between Clendenin, Capps and O’Donnell, that was secretly recorded and obtained by FactFinder 12, where the men plotted to pass along blame to the local GOP chair.

Count three alleges Clendenin solicited money for the ad that was then given to Michael Capps’ charity organization to pay for it. That, Bennett said, is illegal. Money given to a charity cannot be used to pay for a political ad.

FactFinder 12 reached out to Clendenin – who then referred to his attorney, but the office said to not expect a callback.

Earlier this month, Commissioner O’Donnell resigned due to the DA’s office ouster proceedings against him as well.

Clendenin’s ouster petition will now be assigned to a district judge to determine if he will be ousted from office based on those three counts.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple issued the following statement on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

“From the beginning, I have maintained this is a legal situation and as such I do not feel it is appropriate to comment. I believe our legal system is a path for justice and have confidence in DA Bennett and his office,” said the mayor. “I remain focused on moving Wichita forward with city etchics reform, supporting our small businesses, growing our economy, advancing policy that promotes diversity and inclusion, and fighting the spread of Covid19.”

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