Dan Maes releases documents about his firing as Liberal, Kansas, cop: Can this possibly help?

Dan Maes's explanations for why he was fired from the Liberal, Kansas, police department in 1985 have prompted plenty of ribbing and incredulity. So today, his campaign has released six documents intended to prove that he wasn't making up the stories. Trouble is, the items are arguably as embarrassing as if he had been.

The barrage begins with a July 10, 1985, letter from Chief of Police Richard Kistner, who wrote that over the course of the previous year or so, Maes became aware of an illegal bookmaking operation involving the family of fiancee Dee Andrade, who would become his first wife. However, Kistner continued, Maes didn't bring this information to the attention of his fellow cops. Then, after the department found out about it anyhow "through independent sources," Maes was interviewed by his superiors and agents of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Kistner claimed he was "specifically cautioned" not to reveal the contents of these conversations to either his fiancee or her relatives.

Cut to July 8, two days before the date on the letter, when Kistner said Maes told a KBI agent that he had "advised the persons involved in the gambling operation of the existence and nature of their investigation, thus ruining any chance for the investigation to bear fruit" and placing "your loyalties to friends and associates involved in criminal activities ahead of your loyalty to your profession."

For that, Kistner immediately suspended Maes and intended to fire him -- although Maes could appeal this decision to city manager Alan Morris. Which he did.

Maes's appeal letter to the city manager -- supplemented in the latest info dump by documents confirming his suspension and dismissal, plus one defining disciplinary action -- is on view in its entirety below. It's a three-page doozy in which Maes defended himself against Kistner's accusations in feisty fashion. Among its statements:

• While Maes didn't know the Andrade family was involved in illegal gambling, he did realize Dee's brother seemed to do "alot [sic] of betting."

• He shared this factoid about his future brother-in-law's activities with the sergeant of detectives but was told "this department did not pursue such operations." The officer "belittled and ignored" his efforts.

• After hearing a report about a bookmaking operation on a police radio that presumably pertained to the Andrades, Maes reached out to another cop. Then he spoke with his superiors and a KBI agent, who allegedly asked for a heads-up if he decided to tell Dee about the investigation. After all, the bureau "had not made the decision whether to pursue" the case, and if Maes shared details with Dee, the agent might choose to concentrate on other matters.

• Six months later, Dee confronted him about a possible investigation, and he fessed up to "the most important and beloved person in my life" as "a gesture of love" following the dictates given him by the KBI agent.

• Subsequent statements made to one of Dee's family members didn't reveal anything substantial about the investigation, he maintained. Rather, they were "personal threats to instill in him the fact that I would not tolerate his rudeness or insensitivity to myself and my fiance [sic]."

• Maes insisted that the individuals involved in criminal activities weren't his friends. Instead, they were acquaintances he knew only because they were related to Dee. His only misconduct, then, was sharing "the pressures and anxieties of a complex investigation with the most important person in my life."

An impassioned argument, albeit one that didn't sway city manager Morris in the slightest.

In his denial of Maes's appeal, Morris didn't take on these assertions one by one. Instead, he simply pointed out that Maes had been told by members of the Liberal department not to tell anyone about the investigation, but he'd done so anyway. Hence, the decision was final: He would stay fired.

Hard to see how these details help Maes in his attempt to mount a credible challenge to Democratic gubernatorial front-runner John Hickenlooper and fend off the charge of American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo. A cop marrying into a family of alleged crooks certainly would present challenges, but Maes seems to have handled the circumstances in a notably bumbling manner that suggests his claims about participating in the inquiry have been stretched to a considerable degree. He seems to have been more witness or source than actual investigator.

Look below to read Maes's appeal letter in its entirety:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts