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Kansas City officials hired a private investigator to surveil the city's then-Civil Rights director

A head-and shoulders photo of a woman is layered among tear sheets of documents that indicate "Surveillance Services: POI Dorch, Andrea."
Photo Illustration - Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3

The city says it was investigating whether Andrea Dorch, former head of the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department, was violating the city's residency requirement. The city was billed nearly $11,000 for the surveillance by a company in Missouri that hires private investigators. Dorch resigned from her position in April.

A private company billed Kansas City nearly $11,000 in January to surveil the former head of the city’s Civil Rights Office, who was one of the highest-ranking Black women at City Hall.

A City Hall official provided an invoice to KCUR showing that Clarence M. Kelley and Associates of Kansas City, Inc. billed the city $10,992 for “surveillance services” between Jan. 13 and Jan. 26. Andrea Dorch, former head of the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department at City Hall, is listed as the “POI” — person of interest. A city official says the surveillance was part of the city’s investigation into whether Dorch was violating the city’s residency policy.

The city requires all employees to live in Kansas City, Missouri. The city defines a person's residence as "the place where a person has his true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment," according to the city code. Employees who move out of city limits must forfeit their employment with the city.

A city spokesperson maintains that Dorch violated the residency requirement. The city noted that mortgage documents Dorch signed for the Lee's Summit property in 2020 and 2023 include language requiring the borrower establish the property as her principal residence and maintain it as a principal residence for at least one year — "unless Lender otherwise agrees in writing."

City officials would not provide further comment on the investigation into Dorch’s residency, nor would they confirm if the city paid the invoice.

After KCUR told Dorch about the surveillance, she characterized the actions as retaliatory.

“For them to go to those types of lengths, knowing that my personal privacy has been violated in that way, … I'm literally still in shock about it,” she said.

In early April, the city asked Dorch to resign from her position as head of the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity department, saying she violated the residency rule by living in Lee’s Summit.

Jackson County property records list Dorch as the taxpayer and owner of a house in Lee’s Summit and a house in Kansas City, Missouri. Dorch said the Lee’s Summit property is an investment, and maintains that she lives within city limits and was not violating the residency requirement at all during her employment with the city. She showed KCUR multiple documents — including tax documents and her government ID — listing the Kansas City address. Jackson County property records list Dorch as the owner of both addresses, but her cars are registered at the Kansas City address.

Dorch says she resigned under protest, and believes city officials used the residency requirement to retaliate against her after she released a report alleging the massive data center campus in the Northland owned by Facebook’s parent company refused to comply with the city’s rules that require developers to hire a certain percentage of minority- and woman-owned businesses.

The city says it was investigating Dorch’s residency independent of her concerns about the Meta project. Dorch said she had already expressed concerns about Meta’s development in early January, when the surveillance took place.

“Me not backing down was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back, that they decided to fully retaliate against me,” Dorch said.

Clarence M. Kelley and Associates is a subsidiary of Strategos International, a private company that provides “immediate response” for training, consulting and protection — including surveillance.

Nick Spencer, chief operating officer of Clarence M. Kelley and Associates, said the company’s private investigators are licensed by the state of Missouri. He said the company cannot confirm who their clients are or what specific services they’re hired to provide.

The invoice bills the city for 121.5 hours of surveillance, including 1,107.5 miles worth of travel. The invoice shows the private investigators traveled from Harrisonville, Missouri to Dorch’s Lee’s Summit property. The document also shows investigators followed Dorch between a parking garage across the street from City Hall and the Lee’s Summit house.

Dorch said she was often at that property in January because her daughter was staying there over a school break. Dorch also said she was checking on ongoing renovations.

During that time, Dorch said she felt like there was someone following her.

“I did not feel comfortable many nights because I felt like somebody was actually following me,” Dorch said.

Updated: May 2, 2023 at 4:38 PM CDT
This story has been updated to include comments from a city spokesperson and to clarify the city's residency requirement.

It has also been updated to include language from Dorch's Lee's Summit mortgage documents.
As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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