The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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September 10, 2012

Attorney files affidavits seeking criminal charges against mayor

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — Attorney Kevin Cure has filed affidavits in Baxter Springs city court seeking misdemeanor criminal defamation charges against Mayor Jenifer Bingham.

Cure filed the affidavits on behalf of his clients, six Baxter Springs City Council members opposed to Bingham’s recent actions.

Bingham didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.

Cure cites in the affidavits that Bingham at the April 24, 2012, City Council meeting claimed she had a photo of council members conducting an illegal meeting. The affidavit notes that Bingham’s statement was reported by several news outlets, including The Joplin Globe.

“She, in fact, did not possess such photograph on April 24, 2012, or on any other date, as no such meeting or gathering of any kind occurred by the six council members she stated had the meeting,” reads the affidavits.

HISTORY

Turmoil surfaced in Baxter Springs city government on April 10, when Bingham appointed her own choices to replace City Clerk Donna Wixon and police Chief David Edmondson. The council rejected the mayor’s appointments by a 6-2 vote.

Bingham followed up the next day by placing Wixon on paid suspension and changing the locks at City Hall. The council has since restored Wixon to her job.

Bingham has said Wixon was receiving free cable television service, which is a city-owned utility. Wixon and Councilman Gary Allen have said the council approved the agreement so Wixon could serve as monitor for the system and notify a technician of problems. Bingham also said that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation was looking into Wixon’s actions. That was not the case, according to the KBI.

Cure is filing affidavits on behalf of council members Allen, Robert St. Clair, Mike Kaufmann, Ron Steele, Ron Costlow and Ed McAfee.

The affidavits read that Bingham’s statements were made with malice and exposed the council members to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, and tended to deprive them of the benefits of public confidence and social acceptance, fitting the definition of criminal defamation.

The law states that the truth of the information communicated should be used as evidence. Calls by Cure for Bingham to produce the photograph have been unanswered.

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