WyCo commissioner Tarence Maddox speaks out after public censure, apologizes to supporters

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A week after receiving an unprecedented second public censure, a Wyandotte County politician addressed the ethics officials who issued the stern rebuke of his actions.

Unified Government Commissioner Tarence Maddox made his comments at the beginning of an Ethics Commission meeting in the county courthouse.

On March 6, Legislative Auditor Thomas Wiss slapped Maddox with the public censure , his second in less than a year.

The letter stemmed from an incident captured on video at a Kansas City, Kan. gas station and was first uncovered by a 41 Action News investigation.

In the video, Maddox could be heard flaunting his title and making threats about code violations. The elected leader was upset about a mistaken $20 charge and frustrated he had not heard from the owner about a refund.

On Thursday, the meeting was more of a formality since the Ethics Commission had already issued the censure. Maddox could not ask any questions, only make his statement.

"I apologize to my supporters, voters and any other individuals who may have been negatively affected by this scenario," Maddox said from the podium.

The censure letter asked Maddox to voluntarily resign by April 1. It also requested a formal investigation by the Wyandotte County District Attorney, Jerome Gorman, to see if the commissioner should be removed from office.

When 41 Action News asked Maddox if he planned to resign, he answered, "We will have to wait and see."

That is certainly not the conclusion hoped for by about a dozen supporters who attended the meeting.

One of those was Martha Smith, a neighborhood leader who voted for Maddox in 2011. Smith said Maddox is involved in the community and even helped her get a ramp for her home after a recent surgery.

"I pray to God he remains my commissioner," Smith said. "I support him. I respect him."

Meantime, the process to see if Maddox should be ousted plays out behind the scenes.

In a written statement provided to 41 Action News, Wiss said the Ethics Code which spells out the public censure process is approved by UG commissioners and can also be revised or changed with their vote.

"The public censure still stands and the District Attorney continues to investigate the commissioner," the statement said.

In his review, Gorman will look at a number of different complaints, including a highly-publicized arrest at Legoland and other incidents previously reported by 41 Action News .

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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