Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone

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, and a host of other publications. Most recently, Clay spent nearly 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.


With the Legislature back in session, here are five big issues for Kansans to follow

By: - March 1, 2022

The Kansas Legislature has returned! You’d be forgiven for not knowing it was gone in the first place, but the House and Senate took most of a week off after turnaround. That’s the (largely hypothetical) date when each chamber finishes work on its bills and sends the legislation to the other chamber. In reality, leaders […]


Kansas education commissioner’s offensive joke followed animated, rambling remarks

By: - February 25, 2022

Randy Watson is taking a timeout. The Kansas education commissioner, on the job since 2014, has been suspended for 30 days after making an ill-conceived joke about American Indians during the Kansas Virtual Learning Conference in mid-February. But what struck me most watching the video of Watson wasn’t the joke — it was his peculiar […]


Derek Schmidt salutes Black history while seeking to stifle Black Kansas voters

By: - February 24, 2022

Derek Schmidt wants you to share in his excitement for Black History Month. Why, on Sunday he tweeted the following: “Nicodemus is the oldest and only remaining settlement of freed slaves west of the Mississippi. Now a National Historic Site in Graham County, it is well worth visiting during Black History Month – or any […]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to reporters during a COVID-19 briefing in April 2020 at the White House with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to his left. Pompeo is a potential candidate for president in 2024. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Former Kansas congressman Pompeo quick to heap praise on Russia’s ruthless Putin

By: - February 23, 2022

Watching Russian leader Vladimir Putin over the past few years, many words come to mind. Strongman. Ruthless. Megalomaniacal. If you’re former secretary of state and Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, though, those words are “talented,” “savvy,” and “capable statesman.” With Russia in the process of invading Ukraine — a sovereign nation with an elected president — […]


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? […]