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Perennial mayoral candidate Clay Chastain sues KCMO, mayor over February arrest

Clay Chastain.png
Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-04 18:50:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Perennial Kansas City, Missouri, mayoral candidate Clay Chastain’s civil lawsuit against the city and Mayor Quinton Lucas can move forward, a federal judge ruled last month.

Chastain had asked the court to allow the case, in which he seeks $750,000 in damages, to proceed despite his inability to pay the filing fees.

U.S. District Court Judge Howard F. Sachs granted Chastain’s “motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis,” but no trial date has been set.

Chastain, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor for a third consecutive time earlier in the year, was arrested on Feb. 23, 2023, for trespassing at City Hall in downtown Kansas City.

He hoped to confront Lucas at a KCMO City Council meeting about the mayor’s refusal to debate him, but City Hall security would not allow to bring in campaign fliers.

Chastain also had a cardboard depicting Lucas as he went through security, which told him he could proceed without the fliers but that they’d be thrown away.

After he protested, Chastain was arrested. The trespassing charge was subsequently dismissed in June, but he’s pressing forward with the civil case.

Chastain, a retired engineer who lives in Bedford, Virginia, is suing for $500,000 in damages “because of humiliation, emotional trauma, damage to reputation and deprivation of civil right” plus another $250,000 in punitive damages “to discourage wrongful behavior.”

In the eight-page complaint, which Chastain filed July 17 and includes two pages of handwritten attachments, Chastain said he was denied entry because of a prohibition against campaigning at City Hall.

“I said I was not campaigning and they had no right to stop me,” Chastain wrote, though he never mentions having campaign fliers of the cutout of Lucas in the complaint.

He claimed in the complaint that City Hall security was in contact with the city’s legal department “during the ordeal.”

Chastain, who marked himself as living in a different state on the Civil Cover Sheet for the case, is acting as his own attorney in the case.

“It is unknown, who at the city, ordered security to have me arrested,” he wrote. “It is also unknown who, at the city, gave the prosecuting attorney orders to have me prosecuted. Since I was the sole opponent of the mayor, it is likely he did.”

The incident happened about six weeks before the April primary.

Chastain and Lucas were the only declared candidates on the ballot and both advanced to the June general election.

Lucas received 81% of the vote in easily earning a second term.

Chastain initially planned to seek $1 million “for false arrest, malicious prosecution and deprived of civil rights,” according to the Civil Cover Sheet filed on July 5.

Lucas’ office had no comment about the civil lawsuit and the city did no respond to a request for a comment.