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Ranzau Calls County Investigation 'A Cover-Up For Commissioner Misconduct'

Sedgwick County

An investigation into Sedgwick County leadership is on hold for now.

Sedgwick County Commission Chairman David Dennis gave an update at Wednesday's meeting.

The commissioners are hiring outside legal counsel instead of using the county’s attorney, Eric Yost, to look into personnel problems.

Dennis says he had a limited meeting with a lawyer this week because commissioners still need to decide a scope and mission for the investigation.

That work stalled because Dennis wasn’t able to get a quorum for meetings.

Commissioners Dennis, Dave Unruh and Michael O’Donnell voted in favor of hiring outside counsel with commissioners Richard Ranzau and Jim Howell voting no.

Both Ranzau and Howell said they were against the plan because they were not provided the scope or objective of the investigation at the time of the vote.

“I can't ignore the fact there seems to be some politics in place," Howell said. "And so I was just concerned about the motives and the purpose of the mission."

Ranzau said he told Dennis this week that he would not participate in any meetings related to the issue, which he called a “scheme.”

“Because I believe it is a cover-up or an attempt to cover up commissioner misconduct, misconduct that very well could be determined to be criminal in nature,” Ranzau said.

Ranzau’s comments came after Dennis abruptly adjourned Wednesday's commission meeting. Ranzau said he was disappointed that he was not allowed to respond during the meeting.

When contacted after the meeting, Ranzau said he couldn’t comment further on the allegation.

Dennis encouraged Ranzau and Howell to reconsider developing a scope for the investigation.

“We need to be open and transparent to our citizens that we are doing everything that we can to make sure that we have good governance here within Sedgwick County, and that we have leadership in place,” Dennis said.

Howell said he can’t comment about what the county is investigating but said it could lead to a broader review.

"Now, I will tell you, that this is not the first time that some of the things that's causing this effort have been attempted by some folks, and so I have some concerns about some repeated type of behaviors," he said.

The county needs a quorum of four people to hold meetings, including an executive session.

The commissioners voted Wednesday to revise policies for discipline and termination of an employee.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.