Whistleblower lawsuit accuses city manager of suggesting lying to public as part of new strategy

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 1:59 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A new whistleblower lawsuit has accused the City of Kansas City’s highest-paid employee, city manager Brian Platt, of intentionally lying and exaggerating.

It’s been filed by the former director of city communications, Chris Hernandez, who claimed he was demoted and transferred when he pushed back against the new strategy.

The lawsuit claimed a bold new plan to lie was openly discussed among six city leaders on Jan. 3, 2022. Mayor Quinton Lucas was not in the meeting, according to the court filing.

Platt reportedly asked, “Why can’t we just lie to the media?”

In a lawsuit, city manager Brian Platt was alleged to have asked in a meeting “Why can’t we...
In a lawsuit, city manager Brian Platt was alleged to have asked in a meeting “Why can’t we just lie to the media?”(KCTV5)

Hernandez claimed he pushed back, but Platt countered, “Why not? In Jersey, we had a mayor who would just make up numbers on the fly from the podium, and no reporters ever called him on it.”

The lawsuit pointed to the city’s resurfacing project and states the first draft stated nearly 300 miles would be resurfaced. It claims Platt wanted “nearly” removed and later tweeted it would be 400 plus miles of resurfacing.

The filing also claimed Platt wanted communications people to push back on an accurate KC Star article regarding potholes.

KCTV5 reached out to the city manager’s office for comment.

We received the following response which did not address the main allegation of the city manager lying as part of the strategy.

Honeycutt later responded to the allegations that Platt told staffers to confront the Star reporter and say the numbers reported in the article were wrong.

She wrote that Platt was “disappointed” in article for not including more information on the “large-scale resurfacing over the filling of potholes.” She did not address whether he’d asked his staff to refute the numbers. She also did not address the claim of retribution.

KCTV5 asked Mayor Quinton Lucas about the lawsuit. He did not refute the allegations outright but spoke to his own experience with the general issue of staff being misleading.

“I have seen no situation where either with a city manager or our city staff that they have misrepresented numbers, amounts or any other types of issues. And I have never seen our city manager or anyone on staff suggest to someone or designee to misrepresent anything,” Lucas said. “I hope the parties are able to resolve it in a good manner. I’ve been happy to work with everybody who was named in the lawsuit for some number of years. I look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”

KCTV5 contacted Hernandez, who provided a single sentence statement reading, “This whistleblower lawsuit clearly states our concerns about the honesty and transparency that Kansas City taxpayers and residents deserve from City Hall.”

City Manager Brian Platt makes $265,000 a year, nearly $30,000 more than the second-highest salary.