Wichita city councilman to face ethics hearing

By   /   February 21, 2012  /   News  /   No Comments

By Earl Glynn | Kansas Watchdog

TOPEKA – After a five-minute closed session of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission on Wednesday Chair Sabrina Standifer announced there would be a civil fine hearing on March 21 “in the matter of Michael O’Donnell, Wichita City Councilman.”

The Notice of Hearing gave details:

“The Commission alleges that City Councilman Michael O’Donnell … engaged in the following conduct:  using a City of Wichita computer and City of Wichita email account to send at least 39 emails, primarily on Oct. 4, 2011, to individuals requesting their financial sponsorship for a fundraiser for Senator Love to be held on Oct. 30, 2011.”

In a telephone interview on Monday O’Donnell said he had been in office about six months and made “a negligent and sloppy error” in sending solicitation emails on behalf of his friend Senator Garrett Love.

O’Donnell said all email recipients were close friends who had met Love and supported his Senate candidacy.

Kansas Watchdog asked O’Donnell if he knew why the hearing notice was so specific that he sent out 39 emails.

O’Donnell said as an outspoken conservative he has received a number ofopen record requests, including requests for his emails.  He believes one of those disclosures in response to an open records request may have revealed his mistake.

O’Donnell said he knew he could not send out solicitations for himself on his city computer, but he was “obviously wrong” and “wasn’t thinking” when he sent the email soliciting for his friend.

In a similar case last year State Rep. TerriLois Gregory (R, Baldwin City) was fined $150 when she used a state computer for solicitations and accidentally sent them from her state E-mail address.

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