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Lawsuit over false ad in Kansas mayor’s race moving forward

December 20, 2020 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by Wichita’s mayor against three GOP officials who were behind a smear campaign against the mayor will be allowed to move forward.

The lawsuit is related to an ad published on YouTube during the mayoral election last year that falsely suggested that Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was accused of sexual harassment when he served in the Kansas Legislature. In a recording from last year that was released this fall, Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, Wichita City Council member James Clendenin and state Rep. Michael Capp can be heard plotting to frame Sedgwick County Republican Party Chairman Dalton Glasscock for the smear video.

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Sedgwick County Senior Judge John Sanders decided Friday to reject Clendenin’s motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit. Clendenin’s lawyer had argued that Whipple shouldn’t be allowed to argue that his reputation was damaged because he ultimately won election.

“I think that there are facts here — if the jury finds them to be true — that conclude that there’s defamatory statements and that it could damage the reputation,” Sanders said.

Whipple has said that he received harassing phone calls and at least one death threat after the release of the video, which included his personal cell phone number.