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City Council candidate Craig Gabel’s campaign finances under review

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at 8:35 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 17, 2013, at 9 a.m.

Restaurateur Craig Gabel’s finance statement for his failed Wichita City Council bid is under review by city legal officials.

And Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Wednesday he’s sorting through at least two other complaints about Gabel’s attempt to win the District 4 Wichita City Council seat.

Wichita City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf said Wednesday that he’s reviewing Gabel’s finance statement after a complaint was filed by Joshua Blick, the candidate who finished first in Tuesday’s District 4 primary. Gabel finished third, behind real estate agent Jeff Blubaugh. Blick and Blubaugh advance to the April 2 general election.

Blick said he filed the complaint to question Gabel’s campaign finance filing, which lists only a $45 in-kind contribution to his campaign and no direct campaign expenditures.

“I don’t know how that could be,” Blick said earlier this week. “He’s publishing that newspaper (the Wichita Post) that’s essentially a campaign advertisement, and he’s got several thousand door cards going around.”

Rebenstorf agreed.

“It certainly appears like he spent more than $45,” the city attorney said Wednesday.

The city attorney’s office routinely reviews all campaign finance reports in local races, Rebenstorf said, so Gabel’s report would have received a routine review anyway.

Bennett said he continues to investigate a restaurant coupon Gabel offered on the back of a palm card he circulated to at least 1,000 doors in the district after Blick filed a complaint alleging Gabel was trying to buy votes.

Two weeks ago in an interview with The Eagle, Gabel dismissed the coupon as advertising his restaurant bought from his City Council campaign. But he later said he would stop handing out the coupons.

Bennett said he also is examining allegations that Gabel’s staff offered supporters rides to the polls.

“And there are a couple more coming,” the district attorney said. “We will have decisions as soon as the investigations are complete.”

Gabel, who runs Mike’s Steakhouse in south Wichita, did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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