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County commissioner resigns amid Kansas cover-up plot

November 14, 2020 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican county commissioner in Kansas resigned Friday after the local district attorney concluded there was sufficient evidence to begin ouster proceedings for his role in plotting to cover up their part in a false ad against a mayoral candidate in the state’s largest city.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell tendered his resignation after District Attorney Marc Bennett notified his attorney that he intended to initiate legal proceedings for forfeiture of public office, the district attorney’s office said in a news release.

Democrat Sarah Lopez, a hospital system information technology worker, leads by 125 votes in that race.

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O’Donnell had faced calls from Republicans to resign following the release of a recording made in November 2019, just two days before then-Democratic state Rep. Brandon Whipple won the Wichita mayor’s race.

On the recording, O’Donnell, Republican state Rep. Michael Capps and Wichita City Council member James Clendenin could be heard plotting to frame Sedgwick County’s GOP chairman for a YouTube ad that falsely suggested that Whipple was accused of sexual harassment while serving in the Legislature.

The district attorney’s office said Friday it would release information in the coming days regarding the other two officials who were also the subject of the investigation.