Jax. Co. legislators cleared of wrong doing in tax investigation

Prosecutor still investigating county executive

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two members of the Jackson County Legislature with late tax issues have been cleared of wrongdoing.

But an investigation of County Executive Frank White for a similar issue is ongoing.    

County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has decided against taking any action against legislators Dennis Waits and Chair Scott Burnett.

Baker's investigation of the two men was prompted by 41 Action News exclusive reports in January showing both lawmakers have previous issues with past-due taxes.

Waits said he paid his taxes.

But neither he nor Burnett would comment about Baker's decision to not take any actions against them.

"If she's vetted it and that's the agreement they've come to, I'm willing to live with that," said Jackson County Executive Frank White.

In January, 41 Action News reported Waits failed to pay withholding taxes for employees at his law firm in both 2012 and 2015 resulting in a 2016 tax lien.

Waits signed a form called a 5120 to be eligible to run for re-election in February 2014 which reads in part, "I hereby declare under penalties of perjury that I am not aware of any delinquency in the filing of any state income taxes."

Burnett signed the same form in 2014 stating he didn't owe taxes.

But state records show he owed back taxes from 2004, which weren't paid until 2015.

A statement from Baker's office said in part the campaign disclosure form only applies to personal income taxes, not business withholding taxes.

And both Waits' and Burnett's taxes were business tax issues.

The statement also said Burnett's late taxes were actually fully paid 10 years ago.

However, Baker's statement also said her office continues to investigate County Executive Frank White for signing the same 5120 form declaring he didn't owe taxes when he did.

"I'm all paid up, I don't owe any taxes, that's for sure and I haven't gotten anything from the prosecutor's office that I am under investigation," White said.

Baker's statement also says the prosecutor is investigating a personal loan White received to pay delinquent mortgage payments on his home.

"I just want to put this behind me and move on with doing great business for Jackson County and I'm hoping this was just a bump in the road," White said.

Violations of the 5120 campaign disclosure form can result in disqualification and or removal from office.

Baker's statement says nothing was found to disqualify Waits or Burnett from holding or running for office.

Both men are seeking re-election.

Baker's statement, however, doesn't say anything about White's re-election bid this year.

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