Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone serves as Kansas Reflector's opinion editor. His columns have been published in the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, along with newspapers and websites across the state and nation. He has written and edited for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, and Before joining the Reflector in summer 2021, Clay spent four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.


For both Kansas groundwater and budget surplus, using too much too fast invites disaster

By: - February 22, 2022

Let’s talk about resources. Two of the most vital for Kansas right now are a natural resource, water, and an unnatural one, money. We send legislators off to Topeka to manage the state’s money, and occasionally they have something to say about the water as well. Put aside, for a moment, arguments about critical race […]


Three flickers of light in the darkness of Kansas Legislature’s insanity

By: - February 19, 2022

Following the Kansas Legislature sometimes feels like an activity best reserved for journalists, political junkies and masochists. Admittedly, those three groups overlap enough to form more of a single circle than a Venn diagram. As this week closed, however, these followers glimpsed a few positive glimmers amid the inky gloom of culture war messaging bills. […]


Gov. Laura Kelly frightens Kansas Republicans. A new amendment push exposes their desperation.

By: - February 17, 2022

Gov. Laura Kelly scares and infuriates Kansas Republican legislators so much they want to amend the constitution to protect them from her dastardly ways. That’s the message of an absurd proposal heard Wednesday in the House of Representatives. If approved by both chambers, and voters this fall, it would let legislators set and reject rules […]


Anti-education ‘zombie’ bills shamble forward, but Kansas advocates have beheaded them before

By: - February 16, 2022

Leave it to Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas and dean of progressive lobbyists at the Kansas Statehouse, to sum up the challenge facing education advocates. “In this building, nothing stays dead,” he said Tuesday at a rally on the first floor of the Capitol. “You see zombie movies? This is it right here.” […]


What I learned by emailing with Kansas anti-vaxxers

By: - February 15, 2022

It turns out that calling anti-vaxxers members of a death cult and their leader a dangerous con man upsets them.  I received a handful of outraged emails last week from hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin enthusiasts. One recommended I go on a diet and exercise program. Others asked about the sources of my information, as though you […]


Election conspiracies riveted Kansas legislators. A GOP secretary of state tried to talk them down.

By: - February 10, 2022

Former President Donald Trump lied about winning the 2020 presidential election. His continued insistence on the point has swollen that untruth into a Big Lie, one used to restrict voting and advance authoritarianism. During Kansas legislative hearings, we’ve seen that Big Lie expand further, into an alternate universe of bogus statistics, fanciful conspiracies and ludicrous self-owns. […]

A groundhog holds a sign likening Attorney General Derek Schmidt to former Gov. Sam Brownback in front of Schmidt's office on Feb. 3. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

This Kansas groundhog took on Derek Schmidt. That’s too much to ask of one buck-toothed rodent.

By: - February 9, 2022

Pity the poor groundhog. On Thursday, one day after his appointed holiday, the groundhog stood in front of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office. He braved freezing weather while holding a sign adorned with the faces of current gubernatorial candidate Schmidt and former Gov. Sam Brownback. The sign bore a question: “Will there be four […]


Masterson muscles gerrymandered map through Kansas Senate, at the price of school kids’ health

By: - February 8, 2022

It took a day, and the possible reintroduction of polio and measles to Kansas schoolchildren, but Senate President Ty Masterson got the redistricting map he wanted. On Monday evening, after a brutal multi-hour lockdown, the Senate failed to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of their egregiously gerrymandered “Ad Astra 2” map. End of story, right? […]


Widowed Kansas teacher: ‘Pull your head out of your ass’ and get your COVID-19 shot

By: - February 7, 2022

Kansas special education teacher Travis Zirkle has a simple message to those who haven’t yet been vaccinated against COVID-19: “Very bluntly, I would say pull your head out of your ass and get the vaccine.” Travis lost his husband, Jeff Wallace, to the virus a year ago. He believes he likely contracted COVID-19 at school […]


This Kansas law makes being gay illegal. Legislators could fix it, but homophobia runs deep.

By: - February 3, 2022

State law makes it illegal to be gay in Kansas. That’s a moral outrage, and state legislators can fix the problem by immediately passing a bill in the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Thankfully, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 2003 makes the law unenforceable. But as long as it remains on the […]


On this snow day, let’s consider a flurry of worst-case scenarios for Kansas and our country

By: - February 2, 2022

With snowfall having closed down the Statehouse and schools in northeast Kansas, my mind turns to happy thoughts. Such as: What will you do when the worst happens? Kansas and the rest of the United States are on the brink of some awful outcomes right now. I wonder if we’ve all spent enough time thinking […]


Legislators have a responsibility to fully fund Kansas public defenders, and here’s why

By: - February 1, 2022

Perhaps Kyle Flack deserved that guilty verdict in his death penalty murder case. Perhaps he didn’t. Regardless, the account of his trial shared with the Kansas Supreme Court on Monday sounds like an appalling miscarriage of justice. That matters for anyone in this state who cares about the Constitution. Flack’s current attorney, Clayton Perkins, said […]