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Johnson County sheriff accuses top county attorney of breaking the law

Sheriff Hayden
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-19 19:02:37-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Without providing specific details, Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden Tuesday accused the county's top attorney, Peg Trent, of breaking the law.

It comes after the KSHB 41 I-Team obtained a memo Trent sent to Sheriff Hayden expressing concerns. They centered around the sheriff's requests related to election security in the county.

"These requests give the appearance that the Sheriff’s Office is attempting to interfere with an election and to direct a duly authorized election official as to how an election will be conducted," Trent wrote in the July 7 memo.

READ: July 7 memo | Page 1 | Page 2

In the memo, Trent wrote that a meeting on July 5 was set up to discuss security cameras on election ballot boxes.

During the meeting, the memo said the sheriff asked about “prior election processes, challenged the integrity of elections in Johnson County, and requested that local law enforcement participate in the current election procedures.”

Hayden is now disputing Trent's recollection of an election security meeting outlined in the memo.

“I whole-heartedly disagree with Ms. Trent’s recollection of events, as does every deputy who was present for that meeting," Hayden said in a statement. "Furthermore, Ms. Trent and her office are knowingly violating their own laws: K.S.A. 25-2437. We will continue to deal with Ms. Trent until we reach a successful conclusion and ensure all election laws are followed."

The I-Team has reached out to the sheriff's office to get clarification about what portion of that statute they believe Trent and her office violated.

The statute focuses on the "transmission or delivery of advance voting ballots on behalf of another voter."

“We have no intention of asserting ourselves into any election. That is illegal," Hayden continued in the statement. "We have been requested by the Board of County Commissioners to provide security. We made suggestions to help with security. That’s as far as that has gone."

Since last fall, the sheriff's office said it received more than 200 tips alleging fraud in local elections. The sheriff's office previously told the I-Team they had received more than 100 tips.

When the I-Team requested to see the tips that have come into the sheriff's office, they cited an active investigation and refused to release them.

The I-Team contacted the Kansas Secretary of State's office and the Johnson County District Attorney's Office about the investigation.

District Attorney Steve Howe said his office has not been involved in the investigation and that nothing has been submitted to his office to review.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Secretary of State's Office said they're aware of the sheriff's "intent to investigate voter fraud related to the 2020 elections, although no warrants, subpoenas, or an official investigation has been opened by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office."

The I-Team continues to request an on-camera interview with Hayden, but has been told he is not available because it is an active investigation.

On Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the county issued a statement on behalf of the chief counsel:

The chief counsel is under the authority, direction and supervision of the county commissioners. The chief counsel serves as the director of the Johnson County Legal Department and represents Johnson County departments, including the Johnson County Election Office. The Sheriff is a separate elected official and has his own legal counsel.

The Johnson County Sheriff has advised the legal department on July 15, that there is an ongoing criminal investigation regarding election integrity issues in addition to the sheriff’s verbal indication of a pending criminal investigation of 2020 election.

Further, the Sheriff’s Office indicates that the disclosure of communications between the Sheriff’s Office and the County Election Commissioner, Board of County Commissioners, or District Attorney’s Office would interfere with the investigation. As such, the county is unable to make additional comments.

We conduct elections according to state law. We stand by the integrity of Johnson County elections."
Johnson County spokesperson

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