New details accuse Shawnee Mayor Distler of lying during email complaint investigation

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Picture of Michelle Distler

Mugshot of Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler

SHAWNEE, Kan. — Details in recently-released court documents detail the cause of Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler’s perjury charge, arguing she lied to investigators.

The investigation stems from an incident on March 7, where Distler allegedly submitted a complaint using another person’s name, the documents confirm. The name she used has been redacted from the details.

Shawnee police received a complaint on March 10 about the incident, according to an affidavit. The redacted source told officers that he had received a confirmation email about his Kansas Open Meetings Act complaint, which he never filed.

Johnson County District Attorney investigators followed up with Distler, who admitted to filing the complaint under the redacted name, but she said it was an accident. She also said she immediately told the redacted source what she did.

“I told them everything because I was trying to be upfront and say this happened,” Distler reportedly told investigators.

However, investigators allege Distler lied to them about her actions that day. They claim she wasn’t truthful when she signed a complaint form, where she declared that the information she provided was true and correct under penalty of perjury.

The details

Distler told investigators she filed a Kansas Open Meetings Act complaint when she saw an email chain between five “governing body members” that she believed was a violation of KOMA. Investigators confirmed the chain existed, on which she was included.

In a first complaint attempt, she claimed she signed as anonymous and as the redacted source because “I wanted him to get a copy of this.” When she tried to submit the complaint at 10 a.m., there was an error.

In trying to fix the error, Distler claimed she deleted “anonymous,” but she then didn’t try to submit it. She then left the form up on her device, which she said she locked and didn’t access the rest of the day.

A KOMA complaint did go through, but it was time stamped at 4:45 p.m., However, Distler said she didn’t realize that it was actually sent until the redacted source told her at 10 p.m. that night.

When investigators tried to replicate the process she described to see if the system had an error, the system did not send a complaint on its own. The page reportedly refreshed within 25 minutes, indicating that the report would have to be filled out and submitted within that time.

Distler also admitted to including a copy of the email chain as an attachment in her complaint. The last email in the chain was sent at 3:33 p.m. Additional emails sent in the chain at 3:48 p.m. were not included, according to the court documents.

Investigators claim that, since it was Distler’s password protected device and the system would not have sent a complaint on its own, she lied about the events of that day, committing perjury.

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