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Sedgwick County officials need more time to rule on campaign complaints against Craig Gabel

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, March 29, 2013, at 2:23 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 17, 2013, at 9 a.m.

It will be at least 10 more days before Sedgwick County officials rule on two campaign complaints levied against the third-place finisher in the District 4 City Council primary election.

Gary Rebenstorf, the city’s director of law, said this week that he has referred a complaint about Craig Gabel’s February campaign finance expenditure report to District Attorney Marc Bennett.

Bennett, who has been investigating the allegation that Gabel tried to buy votes in the primary election through food coupons to his Mike’s Steak House, offered on palm cards and in Gabel’s Wichita Post, said Friday he hopes to roll out the findings in both investigations together.

“As far as the chicken fries go (Gabel’s coupon offered a rate on a chicken fried steak dinner and discounted meals) we were ready to roll that out after putting our thoughts together on it,” the district attorney said. “I won’t piecemeal these things out, though, so we’re going to need more time to resolve the finance report. I’d say no sooner than 10 days for the cops to take a look at what we have here and let us know.”

At issue is Gabel’s Feb. 18 expenditure report, eight days before the Feb. 26 primary election. In it, Gabel claims no contributions, no expenditures and only a $45 in-kind contribution from himself to pay his registration fee for the primary.

Given the palm card coupon, which Gabel publicly admitted was printed on 4,000 of the cards to be distributed around the district, and the coupon, campaign ads and stories in Gabel’s Wichita Post, Rebenstorf said a month ago he decided to take a look at the expenditure report. The Post has focused primarily on City Council politics, including the primary race for District 4. Since the primary, its coverage has focused on the District 3 and District 4 City Council races, targeting incumbent James Clendenin in District 3 and leading primary vote-getter Joshua Blick in District 4.

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

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