Leaders in Wichita chastise 3 over plot to smear mayor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Elected officeholders in Wichita are formally chastising three GOP officials over a plot to smear the Democratic mayor of Kansas' largest city and then try to shift the blame to a local Republican Party chairman.

The controversy stems from an ad published on YouTube during the mayoral election last year that falsely suggested that Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was accused of sexual harassment when he served in the Kansas Legislature. In a recently released recording from last year, Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, Wichita City Council member James Clendenin and state Rep. Michael Capp can be heard plotting to frame Sedgwick County Republican Party Chairman Dalton Glasscock for the smear video.

The Sedgwick County Commission passed a resolution Wednesday censuring O’Donnell and formally requesting his resignation. The resolution calls on O’Donnell to decline his next term if he wins reelection next week.

Separately, the Wichita City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday saying Clendenin had violated the city’s code of ethics. Vice Mayor Cindy Claycomb said the council had no authority to remove Clendenin from office, The Wichita Eagle reported. The council also condemned O’Donnell and Capps.

The trio also are embroiled in a defamation lawsuit brought by Whipple and are under investigation by a local prosecutor who will decide whether their actions constitute grounds for legal action seeking to oust them from office.

Clendenin said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that he had no plans to resign and didn’t know anything about the ad until after it was produced. But he said he “should not have attended the meeting that has become widely discussed and frequently misunderstood.”

O’Donnell said after the commission meeting that he has no plans to step down at this time. An attorney for O’Donnell denied that O’Donnell was “the driving force behind the conspiracy” in a response filed this week in the lawsuit. Capps didn't immediately respond to phone or email messages from the AP.