Kansas Senate Democrat candidate and former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom launched his campaign as a crime-fighting lawyer; however, a recent scandal could threaten to derail his run for U.S. Senate.
According to a recent report from the Wichita Eagle, Kansas City, Kansas, federal prosecutors under the stewardship of Grissom kept recordings of confidential phone calls between defense attorneys and criminal defendants at a private prison in Leavenworth as far back as 2011.
The prosecutors’ decision to access the recordings could endanger more than 100 cases as defendants seek to throw out indictments or appeal their convictions.
Their decision to access the recordings, made by the contractor operating the prison, could endanger more than 100 cases as defendants seek to throw out indictments or appeal convictions.
While Grissom has not been named in the U.S. district judge’s ruling holding the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas in contempt, the case raises concerning questions over the Grissom’s oversight of the office.
Grissom has said repeatedly that he did not know of the illegal behavior of his employees, although that claim raises questions over why the U.S. attorney did not know anything regarding the accusations. The Kansas Senate Democrat candidate said he would have fired the attorneys if he had known about the alleged conduct.
“I remain proud of the many dedicated prosecutors and law enforcement officials I came to know during my time as U.S. Attorney, but I’m outraged to learn that a select few purposefully broke the law, and violated their ethical obligations and the standards I expected from professionals in my office. These rogue prosecutors need to face repercussions,” Grissom said.
However, Grissom’s former first assistant U.S. attorney Mike Warner, who served in the role form 2010 to 2013, testified in an evidentiary hearing that Grissom was “very much aware of complaints and problems about heavy-handed, for lack of a better word, unfair prosecutorial patterns, behaviors in the Kansas City, Kansas, criminal division.”
Warner said that Grissom and other senior staff were aware of the attorney’s access to confidential phone calls; however, he accused Grissom of refusing to confront the alleged misconduct.
“It was essentially an inmates-run-the-jail-type office. And that’s why I quit. And there was no support from the U.S. attorney, basically wanted to stick his head in the sand and go out and get his picture taken and maybe run for office someday, I don’t know,” Warner said.
Shannon Golden, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said Sunday that reports show “damning details” about Grissom’s failure to act in the face of alleged misconduct in his office.
“The Wichita Eagle story published this morning included damning details about Grissom’s involvement in the scandal and failure to act,” Golden said. “Barry Grissom and his campaign continue to change their story as additional information about Grissom’s involvement in the growing scandal continues to come to light.”
Golden also said that a former prosecutor also came out and said that the Kansas Senate Democrat “was easy to manipulate.”
”Grissom’s leadership was so poor that a retired prosecutor in the Kansas U.S. Attorney’s office felt the need to speak out and tell KCUR in 2017 that Grissom was ‘easy to manipulate, and that’s not a good thing.’”
“Kansans deserve a U.S. Senator who isn’t afraid to fight for them, not a pushover like Barry Grissom” Grissom added.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.