The Overland Park City Council has started the process for possibly ousting one of its members, Scott Hamblin.
Councilmembers voted Monday night to ask the Kansas Attorney General and the Johnson County District Attorney’s office to begin an investigation into whether Hamblin’s arrest on a charge of domestic battery merits his removal from the council.
Hamblin was booked into jail July 22 after an arrest at his home by Overland Park Police. Since then, six councilmembers have called for him to resign, saying his defense against the charge puts him in conflict with his work on the city council.
Mayor Carl Gerlach also recently removed Hamblin from the council’s Public Safety Committee, which reviews police issues.
The city council doesn’t have the power on its own to remove Hamblin, who is serving his first term representing Ward 6. City Attorney Tammy Owens said the decision about whether to pursue it as a civil matter rests with the attorney general or district attorney, and the council has no further input.
Under Kansas law, grounds for forfeiting public office include misconduct, neglecting to perform duties, mental impairment or “a violation of any penal statute involving moral turpitude.”
An ouster proceeding is separate from the criminal case against Hamblin and requires a different level of proof, Owens said.
Councilmember Faris Farassati, who has spoken against calls for Hamblin’s resignation, tried to read a letter from Hamblin’s wife, Curstin, into the record Monday but was denied. The letter calls the attempts to remove Hamblin “politically motivated.”
“It is my opinion that the mayor and other council members are misusing the council dais to scrutinize my husband and they are trying to make politically motivated attacks against him at the expense of my family,” she wrote, noting that councilmembers could individually ask for the investigation without bringing it up in public discussion.
“I am asking the mayor and council to let the judicial system do their job and quit putting our personal matter in the forefront of city business — where it does not belong,” she wrote.
Farassati, who has been allied with Hamblin previously on questioning tax incentives, said the council should let the judicial system decide Hamblin’s innocence or guilt.
“I can tell you Scott Hamblin is guilty of one charge in the eyes of the status quo and that’s being a dissenting vote against the status quo. I believe he’s being tried on that charge rather than a private family matter,” he said.
The council voted 9-2 to request the investigation, with Farassati and Councilmember Tom Carignan voting against the motion. Hamblin abstained.