TOPEKA — The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has fined Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell $500 for using his government computer to send a campaign e-mail supporting a friend.
The commission took that action after deadlocking on a vote to assess a $234 fine.
O’Donnell had agreed to a consent decree acknowledging that his actions violated state ethics law. Before the commissioners deliberated the fine, in both open and closed sessions, their lawyer had recommended that the penalty fall between $25 and $500.
The commission lawyer, Camille Nohe, advocated for a fine closer to $500, citing statements that O’Donnell made to newspapers, including The Wichita Eagle, shortly after the violation came to light.
She also said the fact that O’Donnell sent the offending e-mail during a City Council meeting also argued in favor of the higher end of the agreed penalty.
The e-mail at issue was sent by O’Donnell to 39 people on Oct. 4. It was an invitation to a political fundraiser on behalf of his friend, state Sen. Garrett Love, R-Montezuma.
O’Donnell, a freshman council member who is often on the short end of 6-1 council votes, initially said the complaint was a “political hit job” aimed at muting his conservative voice, including his opposition to an incentive package to spur development of a boutique hotel downtown.
Later, he apologized for criticizing his fellow council members and Mayor Carl Brewer.
Today, O’Donnell expressed contrition for violating the ethics law. Read More