The Barton County Republican Party plans to convene and choose a prospect for county attorney after Amy Mellor submitted a letter of resignation on Tuesday.
In the resignation, Mellor noted that Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir didn’t want to cooperate, but instead wanted to “bully me and my office.” Mellor included a letter she said Bellendir sent to her office on Monday that stated Bellendir planned on going to the county commissioners on Nov. 26 to seek independent counsel for her “ouster or recall.”
“There is substantial public support for this action and I anticipate numerous citizens will attend,” the letter ended, followed by “Most Sincerely” and a signature from Bellendir.
On Nov. 12, the county commissioners publicly showed their support for Bellendir who was preparing for a trial where he was accused of mistreatment of a confined person.
Bellendir admitted to wrongdoing in the case, but that it didn’t rise to the severity of the charge. The body camera footage shows a wrist wrack on the back of the head to a handcuffed man.
A jury found him not guilty on Nov. 16.
Bellendir called that case a “politically motivated witch hunt” by the county attorney’s office. He said the county attorney's office had been a failing department since Douglas Matthew was elected and snowballed out of control under Mellor.
Matthews currently serves as the assistant county attorney. He did not return a call from The News.
In her resignation, Mellor said the bullying started after a report had been filed with the Great Bend Police Department about Bellendir's conduct during an Aug. 10, 2017, arrest of Nathan Manley. It does not say who filed the report.
Manley did not testify during the trial.
Additionally, Mellor wrote that "contrary" to what Bellendir said, the investigation was not brought on Mellor and her husband but by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation which decided to pursue the report filed.
Barton County Republican Party Chairman Dick Friedeman, who is also an attorney, said the law requires the precinct committee members to hold a meeting and select another attorney within 21 days of learning about the resignation.
Mellor’s last day is Dec. 7. Her annual compensation was approximately $81,037.
Friedeman said the selection then goes to the governor for approval or the governor can make their own appointment. Friedeman did not believe that the governor has a timeline to approve or appoint a different county attorney.
Although, he said it usually happens quickly.
Friedeman said they’ve had to go through the process a “few times” for the register of deeds position. Friedeman said he didn’t have anyone in mind for county attorney, but hopes for applicants to reach out.
“It doesn't have to be someone in the county. Obviously, given the position, it has to be a lawyer,” Friedeman said. “My guess is the committee would be inclined toward choosing a Republican. The main thing is we want to get a county attorney.”