© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden admits his election search warrant was not 'valid’

Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden says he won't require his employees to get tested or vaccinated, saying he prefers to leave such choices up to individuals.
Shawnee Mission Post
Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden says he won't require his employees to get tested or vaccinated, saying he prefers to leave such choices up to individuals.

The sheriff's admission that no judge signed his search warrant for old election ballots came in the middle of a Republican candidate forum. For years, Hayden has claimed he is investigating voter fraud, but his probe has not yielded any charges or evidence.

Sheriff Calvin Hayden admitted this week that the search warrant he said he had “in hand” for old county election ballots had not been signed by a judge and was therefore not valid.

Hayden said as much during a brief outburst directed at former Kansas Republican chairman Mike Kuckelman at a candidate forum at the Olathe Community Center Monday night. Kuckelman posted a video clip of it to his Facebook page.

Kuckelman said the exchange happened about midway through the forum for Republican candidates for sheriff and district attorney hosted by the Olathe Republican Party Monday evening.

The room was filled with 50 to 75 people who submitted questions on notecards that were then read by a moderator to the candidates, Kuckelman said.

Kuckelman said that Hayden jumped up during a pause and not in answer to any direct question. The district attorney candidates had just finished answering a question related to Giglio lists, he said.

Brady/Giglio lists stem from U.S. Supreme Court decisions and are compiled of law enforcement officers who may have credibility issues in court due to past untruthfulness.

'I didn’t say it was valid'

In the video, Hayden is seen standing and waving some papers at someone off-camera identified as Kuckelman.

“You can read that, can’t you,” he asks Kuckelman, holding up the papers. “I’m not going to give you anything you can’t see.”

A moment later, Hayden says, “So when you want to tell me I need to be Giglioed, have your stuff together.”

Kuckelman, an attorney, said Tuesday he believes Hayden’s name belongs on a Giglio list and had submitted a question related to that, but he was unsure that the one the moderator read to the district attorney candidates was his because the wording was different.

Hayden said, “I’ve been catching all kinds of trouble,’ and advised Kuckelman that District Attorney Steve Howe “was with me and five of my officers were.”

Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden holds up papers at candidate forum hosted by the Olathe Republican Party on May 6, 2024.
Olathe GOP
Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden holds up papers at candidate forum hosted by the Olathe Republican Party on May 6, 2024.

On Tuesday, Howe declined through a spokesperson to comment or clarify what Hayden could have meant by that.

Cross-talk and volume escalated, and during it, Kuckelman can be heard asking for the name of the judge who approved the warrant.

“There is no judge,” Hayden said.

“A judge has to sign a search warrant to be valid,” Kuckelman replies in the video.

“I didn’t say it was valid,” Hayden responded.

Shortly after that, a moderator steps in to try to calm things down.

Kuckelman said he had not done anything to bring about Hayden’s heated reaction.

“At some point he spotted me in the audience and started shouting at me for continuing to criticize him for lying about having a search warrant,” he said.

“He just lost it,” he went on. “I was really surprised by it. I would expect a sitting sheriff to be much more calm and collected. If the sheriff was going to claim he had a search warrant in hand, he should expect to be asked questions about that if he didn’t execute it, and we all know he didn’t execute a search warrant.”

“I wouldn’t expect a sheriff to be so unable to control his emotions that he jumps up and verbally assaults a member of the public in that way,” Kuckelman said. “I don’t mind. I have thick skin. But it was really odd.”

Hayden’s years-long election probe has yielded no results

The verbal back-and-forth is the latest in the ongoing controversy over Hayden’s claims that recent election results and procedures seem suspicious.

He has said he is investigating election integrity questions posed by residents and has spoken about the investigation in front of various conservative groups over the years.

But the investigation has yet to yield any charges. Only one allegation has been forwarded to prosecutors related to alleged voter intimidation, but District Attorney Howe said it did not have strong enough evidence to pursue that case court.

Hayden first brought up the search warrant issue publicly at an April 13 forum for Republican sheriff candidates.

His remarks at that event were in reference to the county’s February shredding of ballots from 2019, 2020 and 2021. State law requires ballots be destroyed after 22 months unless they are under contest.

Hayden had asked that they not be destroyed because of his ongoing investigation. However, neither Howe nor election officials at the county and state level said they were aware of any search warrants and the ballot destruction went ahead as planned.

At the April 13 forum, Hayden said, “As we stand here today we had a search warrant in hand and had talked with the district attorney and we were working on getting the documents needed when they decided in a hurry to destroy the records.”

His primary opponent Doug Bedford, a former Johnson County Undersheriff, replied at the time that the investigation had gone on too long without any results to show taxpayers.

The sheriff should not have waited so long to seize the ballots with a warrant, if he thought it was necessary, he said.

Neither Bedford nor Hayden immediately responded to a request for comment on Monday’s forum.

Kuckelman says Hayden should be reported to standards body

Kuckelman last week also pressed his case against Hayden in a letter to current Undersheriff Daryl Reece.

The letter, dated May 4, is copied to theKansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, or CPOST, and the Johnson County Professional Standards Unit.

In it, Kuckelman asks Reece if he knew Hayden was lying about having a search warrant when Hayden mentioned it at the forum in April.

“If you knew Hayden was lying, it is highly concerning that you did not address Hayden’s unethical behavior promptly,” he wrote, adding that the undersheriff would be expected to know about the status of the investigation.

He said Reece is obligated to report Hayden to CPOST, the professional standards unit and to the district attorney for inclusion on the Giglio list.

“Deceitfulness exhibited by the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the sheriff’s office should be taken very seriously,” he wrote. “Hayden’s utter disregard for the truth is not only affecting Hayden’s credibility, it is also affecting the public’s confidence in the agency. Left unaddressed, this will continue to impact the department’s ability to recruit new qualified deputies.”

This story was originally published by the Johnson County Post.


Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist in Kansas City. Contact her at roxieham@gmail.com.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.