Jackson County Legislature sues County Executive Frank White

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 20:15:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The battle between the Jackson County Legislature and the county executive kicked up a notch Tuesday.

The legislature filed a lawsuit against County Executive Frank White late Tuesday.

According to a news release, the legislature requested the 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County to enforce an ordinance which places day-to-day supervision of COMBAT under the Prosecuting Attorney's Office, saying it's an order White has failed to comply with since the legislature overrode his veto on Dec. 28, 2017.

According to Scott Burnett, chair of the legislature, they believe there is an issue with the way funds are being appropriated and that prompted the lawsuit.

Burnett said in a written statement: 

“It is unfortunate the Legislature is having to take legal action to enforce an ordinance passed by this body since the County Executive continues to ignore the current rule of law.  It is our moral obligation to ensure accountability for the taxpayer dollars and given concerns about the administration’s questionable use of these funds, a decision was made to return the administration of COMBAT to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  We have complete confidence in Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to faithfully execute the duties asked of her office by this body.”

Legislators appropriated $250,000 to pay for future legal fees.

White was not at Tuesday’s meeting but released the following statement to 41 Action News.

“I was elected to this office to do what is right. And as County Executive, that has and always will be the basis for any decision I make. I am committed to working with everyone to move Jackson County forward, however, I am not willing to violate the charter or law to do so. Any action taken by me and my administration has been in accordance with the legal advice of the County Counselor’s Office and the legal opinion the County received from outside counsel.

Despite numerous warnings, the Legislature has continued to ignore the significant legal issues surrounding the oversight of COMBAT, which has led to uncertainty and confusion among staff and the community. Therefore, it is important we have a resolution to this issue as quickly as possible, but it must be done appropriately.  I am dedicated to working with everyone in the meantime to ensure that COMBAT continues to be a cause for good in our community.”

We continue to follow this developing story and we will update this story as we get more information.