Attorney: Some commissioners wanted county manager fired for FBI cooperation

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Sedgwick County commission’s own attorney has revealed dramatic new details into the ongoing controversy brewing inside the boardroom.

The attorney who represents County Counselor Eric Yost, Austin Parker, said that three commissioners tried to fire County Manager Mike Scholes because he cooperated in the FBI criminal investigation into Michael O’Donnell.

In a news conference Friday morning, Parker confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation into O’Donnell and now commissioners David Unruh and David Dennis due to their involvement in the attempt to remove Scholes.

O’Donnell faces federal charges as a result of an investigation into how he spent campaign funds.

Yost’s attorney said the investigators met with Scholes approximately a year ago, and the county manager cooperated with them. They said that when Unruh found out, he wanted Scholes fired – and later O’Donnell and Dennis expressed similar interest.

“My client has acted within the highest standards of ethical conduct,” said Parker of his client, Eric yost. “The facts speak for themselves. My client repeatedly advised for the past year that taking action against County Manager Scholes based on his actions with the FBI, is against the law.”

Parker alleges that their plan to fire Scholes got as far as a meeting with County’s Deputy Counsel, explaining the manager himself would either resign or be terminated.

But then the FBI came back, this time to meet with Yost about his dealings with all three commissioners. In response, Commissioners had hired an attorney from outside the commission to examine management of the office.

“My client was the recipient of allegations that were unfounded, during the last regularly scheduled meeting of the commission,” Parker said.

At that meeting last Wednesday, Dennis said – “Eric Yost is part of that problem. Eric Yost has provided information to people that was confidential in nature.” It was regarding discussion of a personnel matter but the commission never commented any further.

Parker said that’s why Yost decided to release a statement Friday.

In response, Commissioner Dennis released a statement which read in part – “I continue to be troubled by public, unsubstantiated allegations. I do hope that the public remembers that just because someone makes an accusation, does not mean it is true. The proper authorities must and should be able to seek information from all.”

Unruh has denied the allegation, telling KAKE News Anchor Greg Miller, “I don’t know what anybody else has done, but I can say from my perspective that that’s not a valid accusation.”

As for the commissioner at the center of a criminal investigation, Michael O’Donnell said, “These are all unsubstantiated allegations.”

Yost’s attorney said his client wants a public apology and that they are considering legal action against the county and the commissioners. 

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