By Sam Jack
Statements from Sedgwick County Fourth District Commissioner Richard Ranzau suggest that Michael O’Donnell, commissioner for the Second District, may face charges in addition to those announced Friday morning.
Commission members David Dennis, Dave Unruh, Jim Howell and Ranzau, along with others on the county staff, received subpoenas and testified before a grand jury late last year, Ranzau said.
The subject of their testimony was Second District Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, but the fraud and money-laundering charges that were unsealed May 4 were not under discussion.
The testimony county officials provided “was about his actions here at the county, and all of the things he was doing for his friends and campaign contributors,” Ranzau said. The subpoenas to county officials went out “in the November-December timeframe.”
Ranzau said that knowing there was a grand jury inquiry into O’Donnell’s conduct at the county was part of what led him to repeatedly speak out against his colleague.
“Even before the illegal gambling and wiretapping thing, you had how he was acting – his actions here at the county. I knew how he was behaving was inappropriate and unethical,” Ranzau said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know at some point he’s going to be in trouble for something.”
In a statement, Ranzau called on O’Donnell to resign immediately. Commissioners Howell, Unruh and Dennis also released statements; none echoed Ranzau’s call for O’Donnell’s resignation.
“These allegations ahve nothing to do with Commissioner O’Donnell serving alongside us here today,” Howell said. “The allegations are not a commission issue but a personal one. … I have faith in the justice system.”
Dennis, commission chairman, said the county knows no more than the public.
“As elected officials, we will continue to monitor and consult with the proper authorities about any implications to Sedgwick County, while also recognizing due process is important for any citizen. Sedgwick County will support anything the U.S. Attorney’s Office needs or requires during their process,” Dennis said.