Commissioner Tim Norton, left, and state Sen. Michael O’Donnell share the stage at an Oct. 24 Rotary Club debate at Botanica. Daniel Salazar File photo
Commissioner Tim Norton, left, and state Sen. Michael O’Donnell share the stage at an Oct. 24 Rotary Club debate at Botanica. Daniel Salazar File photo

Prairie Politics

Insider dispatches from our writers on politics in Wichita, Topeka and Washington.

Prairie Politics

O’Donnell campaign sought info on Norton’s credit cards and more

By Daniel Salazar

dsalazar@wichitaeagle.com

October 30, 2016 09:37 PM

Michael O’Donnell’s campaign sought records on Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton, his opponent in the commission’s District 2 race.

Open records requests inquired about Norton’s credit card statements, attendance records and how frequently he entered the courthouse, according to a Kansas Open Records Act request made by The Eagle.

O’Donnell said last week that he worked with a consulting firm he had used in the past for campaign research.

“There’s just standard research people look for in elections,” O’Donnell said. “I think it’s legitimate for people to search for that.”

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Norton said he was aware of the records request but did not know much about it.

“They can do whatever they think is right,” Norton said. “My record is my record.”

The requests were filed by Mendy Caldwell of Antioch, Tenn., a Nashville suburb. Caldwell previously worked for a consulting firm doing background and research for political candidates, according to her LinkedIn page. She did not return a request for comment.

Caldwell requested Norton’s credit card statements while in office. O’Donnell said records related to Norton’s credit card statements were used in a local campaign commercial on television.

Caldwell also requested the log for the parking lot entrance where county commissioners park at the courthouse.

Assistant County Counselor Jon Von Achen told Caldwell in a follow-up e-mail that commissioners did not use ID badges to access the building until this June.

“They do not appear to reflect every time he is here,” Von Achen noted. “For example, there was a BOCC meeting Aug. 10 that he was in attendance for, but neither document shows he used his access card to get in to the lot.”

The county gave Caldwell records of various times Norton entered the courthouse from July 25 to Sept. 16.

Attendance

From 2013 through 2015, Norton attended 99 of 107 commission meetings, according to a request on his attendance records. In 2016, Norton had attended 17 of 21 commission meetings through Aug. 10, when the adoption of the Sedgwick County budget was made.

O’Donnell said he has attended commission meetings in past years and an April 18 commission meeting in Derby this year.

“I obviously didn’t attend one when I was in Topeka,” O’Donnell, a state senator, said. “Since then, I’ve been back doing another job.”

He has not attended a county commission meeting since declaring his candidacy in May. The District 3 commission candidates, Republican David Dennis and independent Marcey Gregory, have regularly attended county commission meetings since June.

Fun fact: both of Karl Peterjohn's challengers, Republican David Dennis and Independent Marcey Gregory, are here. pic.twitter.com/3GLTkYiUkD

— Daniel Salazar (@imdanielsalazar) June 8, 2016

“I normally watch them online,” O’Donnell said. “It’s really hard when they schedule meetings in the morning when people have other jobs.

“That’s the nice thing about them streaming it online for free,” he said.

O’Donnell also sent the Wichita school district a request last year for attendance records of members of the Wichita school board from July 2001 through July 2015. That’s the period when Lynn Rogers, who would have been O’Donnell’s Democratic opponent in the District 25 race for the Kansas Senate, was on the school board.

The winner of the District 2 race will represent Haysville, Clearwater and parts of south and southwest Wichita on the Sedgwick County Commission.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar