KC Mayor Lucas rips police chief’s upcoming appearance at GOP event with Greitens

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Bryan Lowry
·3 min read
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UPDATE: Kansas City police chief will skip GOP event after criticism from mayor. Read here.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas criticized Police Chief Rick Smith’s advertised appearance at an upcoming Republican event in Blue Springs that will feature U.S. Senate candidates Eric Greitens and Eric Schmitt.

The Jackson County Republican Committee sent out an invitation Wednesday to its annual Reagan-Lincoln Day dinner on April 17, highlighting Smith as a guest of honor at the event.

“Never in Kansas City have I seen our apolitical appointees—be it a police chief, city manager, or fire chief—engage as featured guests/speakers in partisan political events or causes. The reasons not to do so are numerous and apparent. I would hope this does not change,” Lucas said on Twitter Thursday morning without directly naming Smith.

The Kansas City Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Smith’s advertised appearance or Lucas’ reaction.

Smith’s appearance at the event and the mayor’s criticism highlights Lucas’ lack of direct control over the police department.

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Smith answers to a Board of Police Commissioners made up of a majority of gubernatorial appointees, including two who were appointed by Greitens.

Lucas, who also holds a seat on the five-member board, is a potential Democratic candidate for the same Senate seat being sought by Schmitt and Greitens.

Smith’s appearance at the Republican event comes after the Kansas City Council moved forward with a $12 million cut to the police budget that was proposed by Lucas.

The Jackson County Republican Committee did not immediately respond to a question about Smith’s role in the event.

Schmitt, the Missouri attorney general, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.

Greitens, the former governor, will also be a featured speaker. Greitens resigned from office in 2018 in the face of multiple scandals, including allegations of sexual blackmail and violence.

Both men launched bids for U.S. Senate last month. The April 17 event at the Adams Pointe Conference Center marks the first campaign appearance in the Kansas City area for either a candidate more than a year ahead of the 2022 Republican primary.

Greitens and Schmitt are both vying for similar segments of the Missouri electorate, making overt appeals to former President Donald Trump and his supporters when they both launched their candidacies on Fox News last month.

In addition to Smith and the candidates, the event will feature appearances by Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple that received national attention after they faced felony charges when they were filmed brandishing firearms at protesters who had entered their private road last year.

Smith has attended politically-tinged events in the past, including a White House event last year where then-President Donald Trump announced an expansion of Operation Legend, a federal law enforcement initiative that targeted violent crime in Kansas City and other cities.

The Operation Legend event came during the 2020 presidential race and Smith’s appearance drew scrutiny, but it was an official White House event rather than a campaign event.