Feb. 3, 2018
By Diane Krizek
By now the whole region knows about the rise and fall of former Jackson County executive Mike Sanders and his former assistant Calvin Williford who was director of the Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority.
Sanders, once a Democratic rising star, served as Jackson County Prosecutor, president of the Missouri Democratic Party and County Executive before resigning more than two years ago. Sanders and Williford are awaiting sentencing.
The KC Star reported that Steve Hill, a quadriplegic and Sander’s childhood friend, participated in the money laundering campaign kickback schemes to supplement his disability income that fueled Sanders’ and Williford’s lifestyle and gambling addiction. The Pitch reported that Service Printing and Graphics in Kansas City was also a major player in the schemes but sources say that was the doing of its president, Greg Walters, a former Raytown alderman, longtime member of the Raytown Democratic Association who also unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Jackson County Legislature. Walters has not been indicted but according to Sanders’ and Williford’s plea agreements, there is more to come.
41 Action News recently broke a story about Jackson County Legislator Scott Burnett allegedly receiving a $500 campaign contribution from Integrity in Law Enforcement, the political committee that Sanders used primarily for his money laundering. Integrity was founded by a cabal of attorneys who wanted to influence Jackson County politics at arm’s length. Lee’s Summit attorney, J. Martin Kerr, has been its treasurer since at least 2010.
One clear example of attorneys influencing politics is a $200 contribution by Kerr recorded on Feb. 4, 2010 and Integrity’s $200 contribution to Lee’s Summit Municipal Court Judge candidate Dana Altieri on the same date. After she was elected, Altieri made two $500 contributions to Integrity although it’s not clear that any candidate or ballot issue was earmarked. In Jan. 2014, Integrity contributed $1,100 to Altieri’s re-election campaign which appears to have been subsidized by FOP Lodge 50 located in Raytown.
41 Action likely received an insider tip to get the story but should not have stopped with Burnett. According to Missouri Ethics Commission reports, many county legislator and city council candidates received Integrity contributions and some were much larger than $500 during the years that Sanders and Williford enriched themselves.
During election year 2010, the MEC April Quarterly reports shows Kenneth McClain of Humphreys, Farrington and McClain and James Nutter were major contributors of $6,000 and $1,210 respectively. Kansas City Council mayor candidate Deb Hermann received $807.97. KC Council candidates Scott Wagner, Melba Curls, Jan Marcasen, Cindy Circo, Scott Taylor, John Sharp, Michael Brooks, Ed Ford, and Jim Glover each received $481.92. Dick Davis and Jermaine Reed received $481.91.
The top contributors to Integrity’s coffers during election year 2014 were Sanders for Jackson County committee, Charles Laue of Asurion and Kenneth McClain totaling $34k. Eileen Weir made her first run for Independence mayor and received $8,500 from Integrity. County Legislator Greg Grounds, a Republican, received $6,000 from Integrity for his re-election and $10,000 from Sanders for Jackson County committee.
Independence City Council candidates Tim Watkins received $5,000, Roxanne Thorley $2,500, Tom Van Camp $2,000 and Curt Dougherty $500.
With the FBI hot on Sanders’ trail, Integrity’s activities subsided substantially after 2014. KC City Council candidate Heather Hall received $1,000 in 2015 and Independence City Council candidate Scott Roberson received $500 in 2016. In 2017, Sugar Creek mayor, Matt Mallinson, received $300 for his re-election.
Integrity in Law Enforcement was ironically terminated for criminal activity in May 2017 and left in its wake are the destruction of promising careers, damaged reputations and the fracturing of several of Jackson County’s finest families.