Clay Chastain files lawsuit against The Star claiming defamation

Mayoral candidate Clay Chastain.
Mayoral candidate Clay Chastain. jledford@kcstar.com

Transit activist and perennial Kansas City mayoral candidate Clay Chastain filed a lawsuit Friday against The Star claiming defamation.

Chastain, who has sued the city or city officials at least 10 times since 2011 and also previously sued The Star unsuccessfully multiple times in the late 1990s, is representing himself in his new claim. His four-page filing cites a reference in an opinion column published Monday to his inclusion at one point on a City Hall watch list for “perceived threats against Mayor Sly James.” In the filing, he said that was false and intended to “undermine Chastain’s chances of winning voter support at the polls.”

Last year city officials told The Star that following the 2015 mayoral election, in which Chastain was defeated in the primary by incumbent Sly James and Vincent Lee, Chastain was placed on a little-known security watch list. City Manager Troy Schulte said that the decision had been made to place Chastain on the list “because he was heard making threats, or what sounded like threats,” against James.

Chastain was dropped from the list in 2017 after he threatened to sue, city spokesman Chris Hernandez said. Schulte said Chastain was dropped from the list not because he threatened to sue, but because there had been no complaints about his behavior for an extended period.

Even though he was removed from the watch list, Chastain sued the city for defamation in March 2018. The city sought to have it dismissed, and an appellate court agreed. Chastain applied earlier this month to have the case transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court, which hasn’t yet decided whether to take it up.