Kinloch, MO. – Newly elected mayor of Kinloch, Betty McCray, arrived at City Hall Thursday morning reportedly with the intention to fire multiple city employees. Not yet sworn in, mayor-elect McCray was met in the parking lot by City Attorney James Robinson with articles of impeachment and half a dozen police officers. “You can’t come in as mayor,” Robinson said. “You have been suspended.” Robinson also told Alderman Eric Petty that the board had drafted articles of impeachment against him as well. Robinson offered both McCray and Petty copies of the articles of impeachment, but both refused to accept them or to leave the premises. Betty McCray chided Robinson, saying “You may be the attorney now, but I promise you, you won’t be later.” Mr. Petty responded with, “We won… it’s time for them to move on.”
Video Courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch stltoday.com
Kinloch, the first city in Missouri to be incorporated by African-Americans, is located between Ferguson and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. It was once a thriving community of more than 10,000 residents. In the 1980s, the airport began a noise-abatement program, they purchased over 1,300 properties near the airport and the city’s population dwindled to its current level of roughly 300 residents. Poverty and corruption moved into Kinloch with shady land deals, city coffers raided and political fights over the last vestiges of political power in the city. In the last 5 years, the city has seen a former mayor indicted on federal fraud and theft charges, the hiring of a convicted felon as city manager, the selling of a previous city hall building to an alleged drug dealer and the unseating of at least two aldermen.
Now Kinloch has added voter fraud to the list. Investigation into the voter fraud is still ongoing, but it is alleged that McCray’s “voters” were registered to city-owned properties or vacant properties. In the election on April 7th, McCray defeated incumbent Mayor Darren Small with 63 votes to his 18, with a third candidate, Theda Wilson getting 2 votes. According to documents obtained by the Post-Dispatch through a records request, on April 2, the city gave the Election Board a list of 27 names of people who it claimed were illegally registered. At least two of the apartments in question on Tuttle Street, where six people are registered to vote, according to the city, appeared this week to have been unoccupied for some time. Both were stripped of furniture and appliances.
There are also allegations surrounding a house purchases by McCray that was part of the airport noise abatement program, but subsequently sold back to the city. McCray claims to have paid $9000 for the four bedroom, two bath house, but the sale price wasn’t recorded with the St. Louis County assessor’s office. The city filed a lawsuit in March against McCray, alleging that she fraudulently obtained a house from the city in 2008. The suit alleges that previous mayor Keith Conway, who served time in prison on charges of wire fraud, theft from a federal program and witness tampering, gave McCray the house for free when she was serving on the Board of Aldermen.
After being confronted with impeachment papers, McCray and her supporters gathered to pray. It was clear that McCray wouldn’t take office, so the mayor-elect said she was heading to Clayton for one purpose:
To find a good lawyer.
While it is unclear to what extent voter fraud occurred in Kinloch, MO. there do appear to be irregularities in the voter registrations. The 27 voters specifically listed by the city, even if thrown out, would not change the election results. Alderman Eric Petty ran unopposed, so other than being a McCray “ally” voter fraud does not appear to be a factor in his election. The impeachment of a mayor-elect and alderman before ever taking office is an extraordinary event, but it seems that there is a lot more going in Kinloch as well.