Sheriff Calvin Hayden’s two-year investigation into the county’s election procedures is still focused on the 2020 election and could go on for years unless detectives get access to data to put the county in the clear, the sheriff said Thursday.
Commissioners questioned Hayden briefly about his controversial investigation during a budget session with the county commission Thursday.
He says two staffers are working on it part time
During the conversation, Hayden characterized himself as reluctant to take on the investigation but that he was without a choice.
He also did not put a price tag on how much it has been costing taxpayers.
“I’d like it to be over tomorrow,” he said, but the two officers assigned are only working on it part time and have been waiting to get data before making a decision about ending it.
He did not specify what data he was waiting on, but said, “People are very protective of what they perceive to be election information. I get that. But it is very difficult to get the information you need. We’d love to clear this thing up.”
He compared the effort to get the data to “pulling teeth.”
“We can’t close that case out until we get the information we need,” he said.
Commissioners ask about timeline, cost
Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick then asked, “This could go on for several more years, is that what I’m hearing?”
Hayden then began talking about the cold case work the detectives do.
“In our world some cases take years to complete,” he said. “We are dependent upon data and the data getting processed and if we get that, we’ll be done. I don’t know if there’s anything here or not. But I can’t say no until we get that data and prove it.”
Chairman Mike Kelly later asked, “Is this considered a cold case then?”
Hayden did not answer directly, but said the Kansas attorney general’s office and secretary of state didn’t want to look into it, so that left it to the county.
Other questions from Commissioner Shirley Allenbrand focused on the cost.
Allenbrand mentioned the storage of documents from the election commission and the cost of lawsuits and asked Hayden if he could put a price tag on his investigation.
Hayden said his office doesn’t pay for the storage or the lawsuits.
As for the staff time, “These detectives doing this are not spending as much time as they would on a full-time investigation. There’s plenty of police work to do,” he said.
No charges have been filed
Hayden has been speaking to conservative groups for months casting doubts about the county’s election results in 2020 and 2021.
As recently as last spring, he spoke at a legislative hearing on an election cleanup bill.
During that meeting, he said he’d uncovered more than 15 statutory violations and turned them over to District Attorney Steve Howe.
However, an open records request by the Post showed only one offense report referred for possible charges.
That one report did not allege election fraud but voter intimidation on a day in July, 2022, when no in-person voting was taking place in the county.
No charges were filed in that case, according to Howe’s office.
Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at email@example.com.