Politics & Government

Robocall for Wichita mayoral candidate violated state law, but punishment unlikely

State Rep. Brandon Whipple committed a minor violation of state campaign law in the recent Wichita mayor primary, but he is unlikely to face a penalty because it was the first such misstep of his political career and was corrected immediately, a state ethics official said Friday.

The violation, which Whipple has acknowledged, involved a robocall that went to voters on one day, Aug. 3, said Mark Skoglund, executive director of the commission.

The recorded call had the required statement about who was paying for the message, but it came at the end rather the beginning, Skoglund said.

“It’s a pretty common mistake,” he said.

The violation will be considered by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

“Typically they (the campaign) will submit a request for a waiver to the commission essentially explaining what happened,” Skoglund said. “Typically they (commissioners) waive first offenses and I expect they’ll do so in this case as well.”

Whipple said he was unaware of the requirement of where to place the statement in a recorded message, having previously dealt mostly with print advertising, where the regulations require the statement of who’s paying for it at the end.

He said in the 20-second message he recorded, he identified himself at the outset and gave the prospective voters his cell phone number.

“There was really no intent to hide who was behind this call,” he said.

Whipple was one of two mayor candidates to survive the Aug. 6 primary, pulling out a narrow win over retired banker Lyndy Wells for the second spot on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

He’ll face incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell.

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Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.