WyCo commissioner Tarence Maddox denies touting position in dispute despite video evidence

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A Wyandotte County politician is back in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Commissioner Tarence Maddox, who infamously threw a temper tantrum at Legoland last summer, was caught on video again. This time, the elected leader threw his title around and made threats to an employee at a Kansas City, Kan., gas station.

Surveillance video obtained by 41 Action News shows Maddox entering the BP gas station at 5th and Minnesota on January 27.

According to employees, Maddox was upset about a $20 charge on his card after getting gas several weeks earlier. He told the cashier he still had not heard back from the owner to resolve the situation and get a refund.

“Let me give you this message,” Maddox told the cashier. “Tell him the commissioner said, ‘If he does not call me, I’m going to get an inspector down here to talk to him. And I’m going to require him to have a security guard overnight and he’ll have to pay for it.’ Tell him that.”

“You make that sound like a threat,” the cashier responded. “If I repeat that from him, he’s going to take it from me as a threat.”

“Well, he’s going to pay a lot more out for his infractions,” Maddox told her.

Maddox was at the store for about 10 minutes. In between customers, Maddox continued to reference his elected position.

“If I call codes, they’ll shut this store down as a result,” Maddox said. “I’m telling you, I’m done playing games. I left my number. My money got taken. If he can’t call me, as a commissioner, as a government official…that’s what I am. I don’t know what you are. I don’t know what he is.”

Station Manager Julie White spoke with the cashier shortly after the encounter. White was already familiar with Maddox and showed 41 Action News the handwritten note he left when the disputed charge first surfaced. On the note, Maddox identified himself as a “commissioner.”

“Every single time he came in, he made it a point to let everyone know that he is the commissioner,” White said. “He basically told [the cashier] if she didn’t deliver that message, she was going to regret it later on.”

With hundreds of credit card transactions every week, White said the occasional customer complaint about a charge at the gas pump is not unusual. But she told 41 Action News there was nothing normal about Maddox’s reaction.

It’s not the only time the first-term commissioner, elected to the fourth district in 2011, has been on the hot seat.

41 Action News was the first to report Maddox’s outburst at Legoland and ensuing arrest at Crown Center last summer. He later pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge.

Other legal problems also surfaced, including dashcam video from the 2012 traffic stop , where Maddox could be heard threatening another driver.

In September, Maddox became the first Unified Government official to receive a public censure for a list of ethics violations.

Legislative Auditor Thomas Wiss confirmed to 41 Action News that Maddox attended a training session with the ethics administrator in October. Specific emphasis was put on the appropriate ways to use the commissioner title, Wiss said.

Reached by phone on February 19, Maddox denied ever using his commissioner title at the gas station or making threats about code violations.

“Never happened,” he told 41 Action News. “I don’t know where you get this stuff. People must be paying you to do stories about me.”

41 Action News followed up the next day at City Hall, but Maddox refused to discuss the issue before or after a public meeting. At one point, he hid behind a partition until the meeting started. And he remained in the commission chambers by himself after the mayor and other commissioners left the room.

41 Action News even tried to show Maddox clips of the gas station video to get a response.

“No comment,” he repeated.

The gas station owner told 41 Action News Maddox’s card was refunded just like any customer. Sometimes, it takes several days to work with credit card vendors, he said.

“Those types of transactions happen all the time, but I’ve never seen anyone take it to that extreme,” the owner said, who requested not to use his name for fear of retaliation.

The owner also felt motivated to file an ethics complaint about the incident.

“I didn’t want him to push another small business owner around,” he told 41 Action News. “I feel bad for the people he represents.”

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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