Man admits shooting fake attack ad in Wichita mayor’s race

January 3, 2020 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who admits shooting a false attack ad aimed at Brandon Whipple during Wichita’s mayoral election last year did not act alone, his lawyer said in court documents responding to a lawsuit filed by Whipple.

Matthew Colborn, a 21-year-old video producer, acknowledged shooting an ad that falsely suggested Whipple was accused of sexual harassment when he served in the Kansas Legislature. The ad was published on YouTube as part of Colborn’s job, his attorney, Ross Hollander, wrote in court documents filed Tuesday.

Hollander said Colborn didn’t act alone but the court records do not name anyone else and it is still unclear who thought of the ad and who financed it, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Whipple filed a slander lawsuit in October, alleging Colborn and supporters of incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell funded and published the video. Whipple defeated Longwell in November’s election.

The ad showed actresses posing as interns in the Kansas Legislature apparently complaining about sexual harassment by Whipple. The script used quotes and allegations from a 2017 story in the Kansas City Star and the Wichita Eagle.

The subjects of the allegations in the news report were Republican members of the Kansas Senate, Whipple was a Democratic member of the state House of Representatives at the time.

Whipple’s lawsuit claims the video was a response to a report by The Eagle that detailed how Longwell steered the largest contract in the city’s history to his political supporters, golf partners and friends.

Colborn’s lawyer, Ross Hollander, wrote that Colborn had no knowledge of that report and shot the video “at the behest” of others, who are identified in court documents only as “John Doe #1” and “John Doe #2.” Hollander is asking Whipple to drop defamation claims against Colborn.

Some Republicans later called for the resignation of state lawmaker Michael Capps. Colborn was Capps’ campaign manager and shared office space with him. The Eagle found Capps was connected to the campaign against Whipple through one of his businesses, Krivacy LLC.

Capps has denied any involvement and has ignored calls for his resignation.