Former opponent glad allegations against Jackson County sheriff finally made public

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The resignation of Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp is a bit of vindication for his former political opponent.

Brice Stewart worked in the sheriff's office and ran against Mike Sharp for sheriff in 2016. He tried to bring attention to Sharp's troubles then and now hopes what's happened is a wake-up call for Jackson County.

Stewart is a former cop, who started working in the Jackson County Sheriff's Department IT division soon after Mike Sharp was sworn in.

"Mike seemed like a personable guy," Stewart said. "I liked him from the very beginning."

A few years into his time working for Sharp, Stewart said he and many other employees were concerned about Sharp's conduct when he hired Christine Lynde.

Mike Sharp

"I started hearing rumors that they were dating, and he brought her in at a higher salary and that basically he was giving her special treatment," Stewart said.

He described the work environment as hostile and that the office motto was, "Don't cross Christine," or you'd be in hot water with Sharp.

"There was definitely a fear factor with him, you know," Stewart said.

The conduct was so concerning, Stewart entered the sheriff's race, running against his boss in 2016.

"Law enforcement should be held to a higher standard," Stewart said. "I felt like the county legislature along with the previous county exec, covered it up."

During Stewart's campaign, he published a website putting out proof of Sharp's alleged misconduct. That proof included a 2015 Raytown Police report, where Sharp's ex-wife Cindi accused him of stalking her because she started a new relationship with his friend and colleague, Mick Covington. At the time, Covington presided over the Missouri Sheriff's Association, and Sharp was on the board.

In text messages, Cindi said Mike was "scaring and intimidating her."

Stewart also got hold of letters, in which Sharp repeatedly demanded the sheriff's association turn over Covington's emails. The president of the board of the organization, ultimately sent a scathing reply, insisting a data dump would not happen and that Sharp's "repeated requests" show "obsession over this."

Brice Stewart

Stewart is just glad Sharp is now finally out of office.

"I felt kind of validated," Stewart said.

But he remains frustrated it took years for everyone else to learn what he'd already uncovered and that taxpayer money got caught up in the mess.

Now he's left hoping the next sheriff turns the tide.

"I hope they're a decent, good person," Stewart said. "In the sheriff`s office, there`s a lot of wonderful, good people out there. I hope he (County Executive Frank White) chooses the right one and things can turn around for the better."

Stewart also sued Mike Sharp. After he entered the sheriff's race, he said Sharp had him moved to another county office where he still works now. But a judge tossed the lawsuit.