Sunday, October 23, 2016
After Turner Report investigation, Joplin Globe follow-up, questions remain for Dankelson
It was obvious that there was a connection between the five contributions. Three of them had the last name Jordan, as in Jordan Disposal, and a quick internet search showed the connections of the other two to Jordan Disposal.
The next question was a simple one- Was there any reason why these five people contributed that much money to someone for a judge race that was already decided?
Using a method that has worked in the past, I crowd sourced what I had with a number of people who have provided me with solid information in the past and it wasn't long that I received the information about Andrew Jordan, 31, Joplin, who is awaiting trial in Jasper County Circuit Court on drug and weapon charges.
The next step was to find who was connected to whom. Probable cause statements had the Jasper County Sheriff's Office arresting Jordan, at an address where he and Freddy Jordan III lived. Once I was able to confirm which Jordan was connected with which I ran the post Monday, three days after I came across the campaign finance report.
It was a post that would not have been possible without some good people keeping me in the right direction.
Those good people can also take credit for the page one story in today's Joplin Globe, though odds are this is the only place that will give them the credit they deserve.
As hard as it may be for Turner Report readers to understand, there are still a large number of people who read the Globe and have never heard of the Turner Report. For those people, the myth of the Globe being a watchdog for the people may have been rekindled, for the first time since the newspaper's investigative reports on former Jasper County Administrator Rita Hunter a few years back.
The most important thing is that the story has been run and for the first time, a news entity other than the Turner Report has shined a spotlight on Dankelson.
It was a well-written piece by reporter Koby Levin and hits the basic points hard.
1. Dankelson, the prosecuting attorney, received $5,000 in contributions from five people connected to a man who is awaiting trial on felony charges.
2. Dankelson (or his campaign, which apparently operates independently from him) solicited the contributions.
Levin allows the players to make themselves look foolish.
Former Kansas State Representative Doug Gatewood, who works for Jordan Disposal, said he had promised to make a donation a month earlier and had no worldly idea why four people with whom he works made the same decision to give the same amount on the same day.
Dankelson told Levin, "There were people who worked on our campaign who identified them (the people connected with Jordan Disposal) as potential donors."
Now if that doesn't sound like a judge- wait a minute, that doesn't sound like a judge.
The question now is will this be a story the Globe follows up on as it did with the Rita Hunter scandal or is this a one-and-done story to satisfy the people who do read both the Globe and the Turner Report and wanted to know why this was in the Turner Report, but not in the area's newspaper of record.
Levin's story raised as many questions as it answered, something that happens often in investigative reporting.
Consider the following:
1. Just how many people work on Dean Dankelson's campaign that he does not know what is going on..
2. Does his campaign use pending cases as a fertile site for contributions?
3. What about the 30 days after the election report when Dankelson paid off another $4,500 debt to the same company with contributions that primarily came from attorneys who handle criminal cases? The largest contribution, $2,000, came from a firm that you would think would be in an adversarial position with the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office, the Glades Law Office.
4. Dankelson says the money from the Jordans went toward an advertising bill incurred before the August 2 primary election, according to the Globe account. Choice Marketing, which the Globe for some reason did not name, "did not invoice us until after the election, and we paid them when invoiced." The Globe story missed the fact that Dankelson's campaign had received the $4,500 invoice the month before. Just how much advertising did Dankelson buy to finance the last minute blitz that probably provided his winning cushion over Stephen Carlton?
"We incurred the debt thinking we could raise the additional funds," Dankelson told the Globe. So far, that has amounted to $9,500 that Dankelson had Choice Marketing put on his tab. That is not normally the way political campaigns operate. Advertising firms also are not in the business of allowing politicians to run up bills that high. If we didn't know better (because Dean Dankelson told us so), we might think of it as an unreported loan from Choice Marketing.
Dankelson had already paid $25,000 to Choice Marketing before these last two billings, meaning that he spent close to $35,000 on advertising in the last few days of the campaign.
And now Jasper County taxpayers will have to pay for an outside prosecutor to handle Andrew Jordan's case.
Perhaps Dankelson can search his pending docket and find someone to reimburse us for the cost.