A Michael O’Donnell campaign sign, with “NO” spray-painted on it, is seen at the intersection of 47th Street South and Meridian. (Nov. 1, 2016) Daniel Salazar The Wichita Eagle
A Michael O’Donnell campaign sign, with “NO” spray-painted on it, is seen at the intersection of 47th Street South and Meridian. (Nov. 1, 2016) Daniel Salazar The Wichita Eagle

Prairie Politics

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

Prairie Politics

Deer cameras hunt down election sign vandals

By Daniel Salazar

dsalazar@wichitaeagle.com

November 01, 2016 12:29 PM

Michael O’Donnell bought deer cameras, but not to hunt deer. He’s hunting sign vandals.

Campaign sign vandalism has become such a problem for the Sedgwick County Commission District 2 candidate that he bought trail cameras used for hunting deer to watch over his campaign signs in southern Sedgwick County.

“Because my signs have been vandalized so much, we bought some cameras that catch activity whether … human or animal activity,” O’Donnell said Tuesday. “We’ve been doing that to try to catch the vandals that have been targeting my signs.”

It’s one of the more unconventional campaign expenditures in a report filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. A Sept. 13 expenditure in the report includes $356.15 to pay for deer cameras, campaign printing and volunteer meals.

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A large O’Donnell sign was damaged in August. O’Donnell took to social media to blame supporters of his opponent, Tim Norton, for the vandalism. Norton has repeatedly said that his campaign and his supporters did not have anything to do with the vandalism.

Now, O’Donnell says, signs are being damaged all over the district, which includes Haysville, Clearwater and southwest Wichita. People have been placing stickers that say “Brownbacker” on the signs or spray-painting “NO” in black across signs.

“We’ve had them destroyed everywhere,” O’Donnell said. “I wish we had 15 (deer cameras).”

O’Donnell said the campaign has installed three deer cameras to watch over the larger signs. He says the cameras cost more than $100 apiece.

“Unfortunately, we still haven’t caught anybody yet,” he added.

He said one camera could have caught vandals in the act if its battery had not died.

“It was such a bad deal because we could have caught the people.”

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar