WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – In a court filing, County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell denies he was involved in producing a false attack ad in the 2019 Wichita mayoral race.
Mark Schoenhofer, O’Donnell’s attorney, submitted a court filing Tuesday stating that Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple’s lawsuit was frivolous and filed to try to impact the results of the Sedgwick County Commission 2nd District election. O’Donnell, who is seeking a second term representing the 2nd District on Nov. 3, is denying allegations he played a role in a fake attack ad against Brandon Whipple, then a candidate for Wichita mayor.
In the response to the lawsuit, Schoenhofer says, “O’Donnell denies involvement in the conspiracy. Defendant Michael O’Donnell denies the existence of a conspiracy.”
O’Donnell did admit that the ad contained false information but denied that it was quote “disgusting and defamatory.”
Mayor Brandon Whipple filed a lawsuit against three elected officials and another man claiming they defamed him by helping to create a false attack ad against him in his run for mayor in 2019. Wichita City Council Member James Clendenin, and Rep. Michael Capps, Kansas District 85 were also named in the lawsuit. Matthew Colborn was initially sued by Brandon Whipple for producing the ad but was dropped from the suit after cooperating with Whipple’s lawyers and providing audio of a meeting he said he had with O’Donnell, Clendenin, and Capps.
In the court, O’Donnell denies that he wrote the script for the video and alleges that Matthew Colborn wrote the script and produced the ad without O’Donnell’s knowledge.
Schoenhofer claims O’Donnell cannot be sued because of the Public Speech Protection Act. It also says that Whipple did not sustain damage to his reputation and that he won the mayoral election “even after the alleged defamatory advertisement was played.”
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, in cooperation with the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, has opened an investigation into allegations against O’Donnell, Capps and Clendenin.