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DA’s office still sorting through legal complaints in District 4 council race

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, June 19, 2013, at 9:35 p.m.

Four months after a rancor-filled primary race for the District 4 Wichita City Council seat, investigators in the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office are still sorting through a variety of legal complaints.

DA Marc Bennett said Wednesday that his office is still awaiting some documents on two campaign complaints filed against Wichita restaurateur Craig Gabel, who lost the primary race to Joshua Blick and eventual winner Jeff Blubaugh.

One complaint alleges that Gabel was attempting to buy votes in the primary with a coupon to Mike’s Steak House, his south Wichita establishment. The coupon, on the back of campaign cards Gabel placed on doors in District 4, offers a $5.99 chicken fry or half off a meal with a drink.

The other 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. It doesn’t account for campaign literature or expenses for Gabel’s free south Wichita newspaper, the Wichita Post. Earlier this year, Gabel said the report was due before expenses for those campaign projects came in.

Bennett’s office got the coupon complaint in February; a little more than a month later, the campaign expenditure report was referred to the DA by Gary Rebenstorf, the city’s director of law.

Blick finished first in the primary, followed by Blubaugh. But Blubaugh, a Wichita real estate broker, defeated Blick in the April general election. Gabel finished third in the primary.

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