The anthemic song, “I Believe,” in the Broadway megahit Book of Mormon has this one eye-popping lyric, “I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri.”
If that be true, Jackson County’s fall from grace has been complete. Not since the days of Boss Tom Pendergast has so much corruption bubbled to the surface in such short order. Indeed, the county calls to mind Sodom and Gomorrah much more than it does the Garden of Eden.
The latest contributor to this unholy saga is Jackson County Sheriff–until Thursday–Mike Sharp. In an April 4 deposition, Sharp admitted he had an ongoing sexual relationship with a former employee named Christine Lynde. Kinkier still, according to the Kansas City Star, “Sharp acknowledged that he, Lynde and his now ex-wife had sex together.”
That’s not the half of it. Sharp also admitted to putting a down payment on a house in Clay County for Lynde and has supplemented her income for the last five years. In addition, he made her the highest-paid civilian employee in the department by granting her several promotions.
Despite Sharp’s largesse, Lynde sued Jackson county in 2016. She alleged that two female co-workers and Sharp’s second in command, Col. Hugh Mills, had sexually harassed her. While the suit was in progress, Sharp took Lynde on trips to Phoenix, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks, not to mention a cruise to Mexico.
The story gets stranger still. Lynde herself was accused of sexual harassment by co-workers. These claims resulted in payouts of $95,000 and $58,500 respectively.
“I allowed my judgment as Sheriff and my obligations to Jackson County be clouded because of my feelings for someone I cared very deeply for in the past,” said Sharp in something of an understatement. He has two and a half years left on his term. Jackson County Executive Frank White will name the replacement.
White has had his own share of problems. Earlier this year, it was revealed that White’s predecessor, Mike Sanders, paid off the loan on White’s Lee’s Summit home just before it was foreclosed on. It also turns out that White had not paid his state income tax from 2013 until April 2016. Complicating White’s post-baseball career is the fact that Jackson County has descended into political chaos.
Of course, the county executive who bailed White out and covered for Sharp has gotten into hotter water than either Sharp or White. In January of this year, Sanders pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Sanders had been caught laundering campaign money through a paraplegic friend. His chief of staff, Calvin Williford, pleaded guilty as well.
As to Sharp’s political party–the same as that of White and Sanders–the Star mentions it indirectly in the 32nd paragraph of a lengthy article, to wit, “He topped a field of four candidates in the 2008 Democratic primary.”