May 18, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Star: Democratic Honcho Mike Sanders Used Disabled Man in Illegal Kickback Scheme

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As former Jackson County Exec and state party chair Mike Sanders has learned, you have surely outlived your value to the party when the Kansas City Star busts you on page one.

Mike Sanders in happier days.

Two years ago, the popular Sanders, just 50, surprised local Democrats when he resigned from his post as Jackson County executive just a year into his third term. His explanation–more time with the family–left observers scratching their heads.

Sanders seemed to have a promising future. After serving as chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party from 2011 to 2013, Gov. Jay Nixon praised him as “one of the most successful leaders of the Missouri Democratic Party in recent memory.”

Today, his resignation begins to make sense. Sanders had to have been aware of the ongoing FBI investigation. The part of the scheme that was revealed to the Star by one of the participants, Steve Hill, a friend of Sanders dating back to their days at Winnetonka High School, was pretty straightforward.

Sanders would pay Hill, a quadriplegic, from campaign bank accounts that Sanders controlled for services that Hill did not perform. Hill would keep a little of the money and kick the bulk of it back to Sanders. Hill told the Star, “I thought about it for a minute. What the hell? All right, I’m in a wheelchair, man. I’m hurting for a few bucks. And $200 or $300 would help me out.” The scheme started in 2010. Hill claims to have cashed more than $60,000 in checks made out to him.

Although Mike Sanders had access to multiple accounts, the FBI has apparently been focusing on the one that used Hill’s services. The name of the account is almost too good to be true: Integrity in Law Enforcement. Sanders launched the account in 2004 when he was county prosecutor, and it was not terminated until this summer.

Not surprisingly, the FBI was tight lipped about its investigation into Sanders and his associates. Mike Sanders had no comment either.

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