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Sedgwick County DA Seeks To Oust City Council Member Clendenin Over False Attack Ad

City of Wichita/YouTube

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office has filed a petition seeking to remove Wichita City Council member James Clendenin from office.

The petition cites Clendenin’s alleged role in a false attack ad against Mayor Brandon Whipple during last year’s campaign. It says Clendenin violated a state law regarding criminal false communication, which constitutes misconduct while in office.

Clendenin, along with state Rep. Michael Capps and former County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, were heard on a recording released earlier this year discussing plans to cover up their involvement with the video and instead blame a county Republican Party leader.

Clendenin said in a statement last month that he acknowledges it was him on the recording, but denies "any involvement in the scripting, directing, editing or distribution of the television ad in question."

He did acknowledge raising money for a billboard campaign to attack Whipple. The money was funneled through a nonprofit to pay for production of the video, which the petition said was another violation of state law.

The City Council formally condemned Clendenin’s actions. The council doesn’t have the power to remove a member. Clendenin is currently serving his second and final full term on the council.

District Attorney Marc Bennett says the civil petition will be assigned to a Sedgwick County District Court judge.

O’Donnell, who recently lost his bid for a second term on the commission representing District 2, resigned earlier this month after the DA’s office announced plans to begin ouster proceedings.

An investigation into Capps has been referred to the state Attorney General's Office, which has jurisdiction over officials elected to state offices.

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.