Clay Wirestone has written columns and edited reporting 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, cnn.com and a host of other publications. Before joining the Reflector, 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.
Kansas lawmakers want these bills to horrify you and your friends
By: Clay Wirestone - February 2, 2023
The cruelty is the point. That’s the only impression left after watching state Sen. Mike Thompson’s latest foul attack on LGBTQ people. His new bill would classify drag shows as promoting obscenity and bar children from viewing them. Depending on the bill’s wording (text was conspicuously difficult to find Wednesday), it might make showing “Mrs. […]
A Kansas woman killed her abuser. At every level, in every instance, the system failed her.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 31, 2023
The story of Sarah Gonzales-McLinn is one of incomprehensible abuse and personal redemption. It’s also one of baffling, and repeated, institutional failure. At every step, those who might have been expected to care for and protect a victim of grooming and human trafficking looked the other way. They retreated into legalistic formalities. All the while, […]
A bomb threat at my son’s Lawrence school shattered an afternoon into emotional fragments
By: Clay Wirestone - January 30, 2023
On 11:22 Thursday morning, I received a call from the Lawrence Unified School District. Hearing about a bomb threat at your child’s middle school has a way of fixing a precise time in your mind. The message, recorded by district communications director Julie Boyle, was admirably direct and concise. The school had learned of a […]
Statehouse scraps: Kansas lawmakers shred transparency, good and bad bills, hated photo
By: Clay Wirestone - January 28, 2023
While I spent much of this week fending off the sinus pressure and congestion of a head cold, Kansas legislators spent the week fending off public scrutiny and refusing to acknowledge that folks really, really don’t want to ban abortion. Yes, we’ve come to week three of the session. The bloom is off the rose, […]
Kelly shares optimistic words, but dark undercurrents flow through Kansas Statehouse
By: Clay Wirestone - January 25, 2023
Laura Kelly knows what works for the majority of Kansans. She’s down to earth, plainspoken, and a temperamental and political moderate. Two successive tall Republican men have run against the diminutive Democrat, and each has paid a price for underestimating her political savvy. So perhaps we should pay attention to what the governor said Tuesday […]
Kansas sex abuse law obstructs justice for young victims. Lawmakers can fix it now.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 23, 2023
Kansas law demands an impossibility of young people: If they suffered childhood sexual abuse, they must file a civil case before their 21st birthday. This is the same state where GOP leaders currently advocate a bill criminalizing gender-affirming care for those under 21. That is, they appear to believe that Kansas youths can’t possibly be […]
Statehouse scraps: Transparency fail, LaTurner threat trial, KanCare expansion prospects
By: Clay Wirestone - January 20, 2023
The second week of the Kansas Legislature has barreled through Topeka like a steam locomotive fueled with plutonium. Along with the usual committee hearings and backroom dealmaking, political news across Kansas kept the pace with GOP organizational hijinks and the bizarre trial of a man who threatened U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner. At the Statehouse, lawmakers […]
Invasion of the body snatchers: Kansas GOP leaders crave control of residents
By: Clay Wirestone - January 19, 2023
Republican leaders in the Kansas Legislature want to control your body and the bodies of your children. This new invasion of the body snatchers has played out across the last year or more in state politics, as those who claim to lead a party once dedicated to individual rights abandoned its rich history. GOP bigwigs […]
Kansas Statehouse spews news: Defining ‘woke agenda,’ Kelly’s COVID luck, meditation room blues
By: Clay Wirestone - January 16, 2023
Week one of the Kansas legislative session came and went, and so did the stories. If you followed along with Kansas Reflector, you glimpsed dozens speeding by, with all the latest about Gov. Laura Kelly, GOP legislators and advocacy groups gearing up for a grueling gauntlet. Covering the Statehouse can be like drinking from a […]
Kansas Republicans spurn the voters and results they don’t like while reheating tired humbug
By: Clay Wirestone - January 12, 2023
The first few days of the 2023 Kansas legislative session have exposed a core contradiction: Elected Republican lawmakers only respect the elections that put them in power. Other elections, such as those on the local level or for statewide constitutional amendments, don’t carry the same weight. Indeed, they might not represent the will of the […]
This Kansas rep wanted to run for House speaker on a transparency platform. The GOP shut him down.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 9, 2023
Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger, a Lawrence Democrat, won’t be running for Kansas speaker of the House today. Republican leaders who prize obfuscation over open government made sure of that. But if he did run, here’s part what he would say: “Returning members know that I have been working for many years, with little success, to […]
Feeble clergy sex abuse report exposes Schmidt’s sins. He betrayed his office and Kansas kids.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 8, 2023
Now we know the true legacy of outgoing Attorney General Derek Schmidt: allowing likely sexual abusers of children to walk free. According to a summary from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, more than 400 children in our state were sexually abused by Catholic clergy since 1950. While the KBI looked into nearly 200 clergy and […]