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 cnn.com. 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.
Election conspiracies riveted Kansas legislators. A GOP secretary of state tried to talk them down.
By: Clay Wirestone - 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. […]
This Kansas groundhog took on Derek Schmidt. That’s too much to ask of one buck-toothed rodent.
By: Clay Wirestone - 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: Clay Wirestone - 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: Clay Wirestone - 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: Clay Wirestone - 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: Clay Wirestone - 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: Clay Wirestone - 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 […]
Anti-vax death cult rampages through Kansas politics, with Sen. Mark Steffen out in front
By: Clay Wirestone - January 28, 2022
Anti-vaccine forces in Kansas are a death cult, and Sen. Mark Steffen is doing his best to lead them. How else can you interpret the extraordinary events of this week? The Hutchinson anesthesiologist introduced legislation that would allow medical providers to prescribe ineffective — or harmful — COVID-19 treatments without fear of reprimand from officials […]
Kansas legislator: ‘There are very evil people in the world.’ That’s a lousy basis for laws.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 27, 2022
You don’t expect Kansas legislative committees to take up deep philosophical problems. Usually, they deal with the text of proposed legislation or, in their more whimsical moments, rightwing fantasies. Yet the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee looked within and grappled with the question of evil Monday. The panel heard testimony about a bill banning […]
A mystery company wants to invest in Kansas. Thank goodness legislators make us look alluring.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 26, 2022
Hello, mystery megaproject company! I hear you’ve picked Kansas as one of two finalists for a $4 billion production plant that could generate 8,000 jobs and $2.5 billion annually. Who might you be? Amazon? Airbus? Google? GameStop? Whatever the case, we’re all excited around here. You’ll be glad to know that Kansas legislators have been […]
Workers wield newfound power in world shaped by COVID-19. Kansas leaders must adapt, and quickly.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 25, 2022
Businesses wouldn’t exist without workers. That’s been easy to forget in recent decades, as corporations flexed their muscle, organized labor endured setbacks, and CEOs grew ever richer. Within a year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic metamorphosed the employment landscape in Kansas and across the country. Workers are waking up amid widespread skill and staffing shortages. They […]
Like Quantrill’s violent raiders, GOP legislators in Kansas aim to stifle Lawrence progressives
By: Clay Wirestone - January 20, 2022
Republicans in the Kansas Legislature are on the brink of accomplishing what pro-slavery forces in 1863 couldn’t quite manage: Silencing the progressives of Lawrence. Back then, William Quantrill and his raiders set much of the town ablaze and massacred more than 100. Lawrence was a free state stronghold, fiercely opposed to slavery, and its residents […]