KBI taps Colorado investigators for help with probe into Marion, Kansas, newspaper raid

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating the police raid of the Marion County Record at the request of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, with Colorado agents spending Friday afternoon at the newspaper.

Eric Meyer, the editor of the Marion County Record, said two CBI agents came to the paper to interview him, a reporter and a former reporter. Meyer said the agents told him that they had been sworn-in as Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents for the purposes of the interviews.

The involvement of out-of-state law enforcement marks a new phase in the aftermath of the raid on the Record.

In August, Gideon Cody, then the Marion police chief, obtained search warrants for the newspaper, Meyer’s home and the home of Marion city councilwoman Ruth Herbel. The search warrants were withdrawn within days amid widespread condemnation of Cody, who resigned weeks later.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation took the lead in the investigation shortly after the searches, but its inquiry has remained largely out of public view. Friday’s interviews with the CBI, Meyer said, are the first time since the searches that Meyer and other newspaper employees have spoken with investigators.

Until now, Meyer said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation had not reached out to Record employees for interviews.

“It doesn’t make sense. As a person who investigates things you want to get all the sides before you come to a conclusion. They never got our side,” Meyer said.

Before the searches, the Record had been investigating Cody’s tenure at the Kansas City Police Department, where he was facing possible disciplinary action before he left this past spring for Marion. In applying for the search warrants, Cody wrote that he was investigating alleged identity theft of local restaurant owner Kari Newell after a reporter looked up her driver’s license records – which are public records – on a state database.

“I’m hopeful that if we can finally get the story out there that this will go away at some point,” Meyer said. “That’s why we’re cooperating.”

It’s unclear exactly why the CBI was brought into the investigation. Documents have previously shown the KBI had knowledge of Cody’s investigation of the Record prior to the search warrants.

The CBI declined to answer questions on Friday.

“I am unable to provide you with any information, please contact the KBI directly with inquiries,” CBI spokesperson Natalie Olson said in an email.

KBI spokesperson Melissa Underwood said Friday she couldn’t answer questions while the investigation is ongoing. A spokesperson for Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CBI spoke with several other community members with connections to the newsroom search.

Ryan Newell, the estranged husband of Newell, told The Star he spoke with the CBI on Thursday. He said the agency was asking similar questions to what the KBI asked him about but that they went further. He said he could not comment on the specifics of the conversation.

The Marion County Record reported Friday that the CBI had also spoken with Newell and Pam Maag, a community member who initially sent Newell’s driving records to Herbel and the Record.

The Wichita Eagle’s Chance Swaim contributed to this report.