Michael O'Donnell Announces He'll Step Down If Reelected To Sedgwick County Commission

Oct 31, 2020

  

This will likely be the last term for Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell.

He announced on social media Saturday that he will not accept a second term representing the 2nd District should he be reelected Tuesday. He did not resign from his current term, which ends in January.

O'Donnell, a Republican, said his candidacy is “too much of a distraction.”

“This seat is much more important than any one person," O'Donnell wrote. "Our community deserves a commissioner committed to conservative values and policies that reflect our district."

His decision comes days after his colleagues on the County Commission voted to censure him and formally call for his resignation due to his actions related to a negative campaign video last year.

The attack ad video targeted Brandon Whipple during his mayoral campaign in 2019 and contained false allegations of sexual harassment. Whipple won the election anyway.

An audio recording released earlier this month caught O’Donnell conspiring with Wichita City Council member James Clendenin and State Representative Michael Capps last year to create a cover-up plan for who produced the video. The secretly taped conversation came from a meeting last November after the campaign video appeared.

The audio recording suggests the politicians plotted to blame Sedgwick County Republican Party Chairman Dalton Glasscock for the video.

Last week, O’Donnell apologized for taking part in the plot to blame others but continued to deny any involvement with the creative process for the video. He said his fundraising ended up supporting the video without his knowledge.

The Sedgwick County Republican Party posted on social media Saturday that leaders welcome O'Donnell's plan to decline to serve a second term.  

"Though the actions of the past year have caused much hurt and pain, now is the time to move past this disheartening period in our County," party leaders wrote on Facebook. "We must heal and show that we are above this. We continue to urge Michael Capps and James Clendenin to take responsibility for their actions. This needs to end today."

O’Donnell is running against Democrat Sarah Lopez for the 2nd District seat. If he wins Tuesday’s election and resigns as planned, the local Republican Party will fill the vacancy. The current county commission includes four Republicans and one Democrat.

A civil lawsuit that names O’Donnell as one of the defendants and an investigation by the Sedgwick County District Attorney are still pending.

The Wichita City Council last week censured Clendenin and asked for his resignation. Capps' term ends in January.

O'Donnell, 36, has served on the Wichita City Council and as a state senator in Topeka. He was acquitted in March 2019 on 21 federal  counts of wire fraud related to campaign payments. A jury couldn't reach a verdict on five other counts.

"It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Sedgwick County," O'Donnell wrote in his Facebook post Saturday. "I look forward to see the next steps the Lord has for me."