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New Kansas City Police Board Appointee Falsely Claimed University Credit

Jackson County Judge Bryan Round swears in Dawn Cramer on August 31 as the newest member of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners.
Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3
Jackson County Circuit Judge Bryan Round swears in Dawn Cramer on Aug. 31 as the newest member of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners.

Dawn Cramer, who was appointed to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Aug. 26, falsely claimed that she had “completed a high-level PhD program” at a university.

Corrected: September 15, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
This story has been updated to correct that Dawn Cramer did, in fact, serve one year on the Heartland Foundation board. It is still unclear whether she served on another charitable board.

Dawn Cramer, who was named to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson last month, exaggerated her academic credentials, saying she "completed the highest-level PhD program" at a university.

Cramer, who is vice president of CramerCapital Management, a Northland financial services firm run by her husband, claimed on her company’s website that she “completed the highest-level PhD program through Klemmer University.”

In fact, Klemmer is a for-profit company that holds seminars and private corporate training sessions. Its founder, Brian Klemmer, said he’s had success with “a multitude of direct sales companies.” Costs run from $995 for a three-day mastery class to $3,995 for “Samurai Camp” coaching.

After the discrepancy was raised by KCUR, Cramer Capital Management's “Our Team” page was scrubbed of the Klemmer citation.

On her company's website, Dawn Cramer claims to have "completed the highest level PhD program through Klemmer University." In fact, Klemmer is a for-profit company that offers motivational training. When it was brought to Cramer's attention by KCUR, the website was scrubbed of the claim.
Cramer Capital Management
On her company's website, Dawn Cramer claimed to have "completed the highest level PhD program through Klemmer University." In fact, Klemmer is a for-profit company that offers motivational training. When KCUR called it to her attention, the website was scrubbed of the claim.

In an Aug. 26 press release from the governor’s office, Cramer is said to have been a “past board member of the Heartland Foundation and Good Shepard (sic) Center.” In fact, Cramer did serve on the Heartland Foundation board for one year in 2009. But KCUR found no proof that she served on the Northland Shepherd's Center.

The center's former executive director, Rebecca Gordon Brown, wrote to KCUR at Cramer's request and said Cramer served on the board from from January 1, 2015 to November 10, 2015. But Cramer is not listed on the center's IRS filing for that year, which is required for anyone sitting on a non-profit board.

In an email Monday, Cramer insisted that she was on the board of both charitable organizations. As for the Klemmer claim, she said that it is “an intense leadership program which has four programs which internally was compared to working for a PHD.”

“I don’t have a PHD and never claimed to have one,” Cramer wrote in the email to KCUR.

Two claims in Cramer’s bio are true: KCUR confirmed that she holds Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's Series 7, Series 66, and Advanced Investment Fiduciary designations. And she is a current member of the Clay County Domestic Violence Board.

In the bio sent out with the governor's announcement, Cramer also claimed to be “the founder of the 'Let’s Get Jazzed' event, which has raised more than $550,000 for Newhouse, a shelter for battered women.” KCUR confirmed that she and her husband, Bruce Cramer, were founders of the event, which raised about half the figure she claimed, $233,325, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to IRS records.

Parson’s office did not respond to emails and a phone call seeking comment on the discrepancies in Cramer's bio.

Kansas City Police deferred comment to the governor's office. An email sent to the Board of Police Commissioners seeking comment was not returned. Commissioner Mark Tolbert, president of the board, was on vacation and unavailable for comment, his office said Monday.

Cramer was appointed to fill a vacancy on the police board created by the departure of Nathan Garrett, who said in a letter to Parson that a “change in residency” had prompted him to step down. He moved to Smithville.

The police board, which oversees the Kansas City Police Department, is embroiled in a lawsuit against Mayor Quinton Lucas and the city council over Lucas’ plan to reallocate part of the police budget to crime prevention programs. Lucas, who sits on the police board, and other Kansas City officials would like more local control over the police department, saying the governor has total control since he appoints all but the mayor to the board.

At a hearing on Sept. 1, the board claimed the city is trying to take over the police department and asked the court to strike Lucas' plan down. The judge is expected to rule soon.

Cramer's husband is the president of Cramer Capital Management, a financial advisory firm. Two of the couple’s children also work at the company, which offers financial services to businesses and individuals. The company recently moved to Smithville, according to its website.

In the email, Cramer suggested talking to her uncle, former Kansas City TV newsman Stan Cramer, to vouch for “all the great things we have done for charity in our community.” She also offered interviews with the judges at the Liberty courthouse who hear domestic violence cases.

“I would have our clients who wanted to help women of domestic violence bring in supply’s (sic) these women would need when leaving these situations and the court advocate would give them a bag of these to help them get on their feet,” she wrote.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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