David Greenwald is Running Against His Old Boss, Steve Howe, the Current District Attorney

David believes the fentanyl crisis is a way to beat him.

by Victoria Kline

Integrity Intercept: Eyes on the Truth: Intercept #11

District Attorney Candidate

June 30, 2024

The purpose of bringing a candidate before the public is to inform the public.

It is not just a website “informative” (which I did retrieve a few snippets.)(1)  It is in-depth interviews and following someone around, hoping to garner back door information that the voting public is unaware of. 

I worked over thirty-four years ago for the District Attorney’s office of Johnson County.

I can say from memory that the D.A.’s office was never boring. Routine, sure, but boring, no.

I asked David Greenwald many questions in our relaxed two-and-a-half-hour interview. He always went out of his way to give a story or a case to help explain his position or action.

These stories were not braggadocious nor long-winded. He would summarize my question back to me, to make sure he was hearing correctly.

David was born in Johnson County, Kansas. His parents still live in the same house in which he was raised. He attended Shawnee Mission West, graduated from Kansas University as an undergraduate and attended the University of Miami for law school. He picked Miami because they had one of the best trial law schools in the country.

Since he was young, he knew he wanted to be an attorney. He loves going to court to fight for justice, and his passion – especially these past three years – has been the growing fentanyl epidemic.

In 2012, he began in the City Attorney’s office in Topeka with DUI cases. Then doors opened to Wyandotte County to prosecute felonies and violent criminals.

He rose up in that county prosecuting gang cases, like the Traviesos Eighth Street Gang and the Sureño Por Vida Gang (Mexican Mafia); with experience in RICO and homicide cases.

He found this work fulfilling, even the 2:00 am calls to get a warrant for officers closing in on gang activity.

He moved back to Johnson County and worked for the present D.A. Steve Howe, prosecuting DUI’s that resulted in fatalities and bodily injury. It was the toxicology reports and how drugs interact with other drugs that David found fascinating.

In 2021, he was headhunted to go to Douglas County to head the drug unit, and he came in with the new Douglas County District Attorney, Suzanne Valdez.  

He was given a blank slate to fight fentanyl, and he ran with it.

Douglas County was and is getting pummeled with fentanyl, as is Johnson County.

The Douglas County death toll skyrocketed, and the police were willing to get aggressive in how to deal with this epidemic.

Two things aid in this issue in Douglas.

· Rehabilitating the addict

· Bringing forth tough charges

But what makes someone want to compete against their ex-boss?

Especially a four-term incumbent, who has not been challenged from his own party in the past two campaigns for this office?

Smiling David says, “term limits.” Then adds. “I don’t think enough is being done to address this Fentanyl issue.”        

According to David, there is a well-done KC Star article on fentanyl, which won an award for reporting.(2) 

There were 148 fentanyl cases in JoCo. Out of those 148 cases, only 8 cases were prosecuted. 

Steve Howe says, ‘They are very hard to prosecute’.

David responded, “He is right, they are hard. But I have prosecuted three times that in Lawrence. We had a case where the drug deal happened in Jackson County. They have video. They have receipts, and the body was found in Lawrence. Normally, the county where the body was found takes the case. I called Jackson County and said, ‘you guys want this case?’ ‘No, he is not riddled with bullets.’ I called the US Attorney’s Office; ‘do you want it?’ ‘no, it’s not a big enough deal’. I took it, and between doing something and doing nothing, I did something. He is now serving 8 years in prison. Yes, they are hard, but I am willing to do the hard cases.” 

As of the publishing of this article, there are now over 200 fentanyl deaths in Johnson County.

David hopes more Johnson County law enforcement will come forward to discuss the irritation with the D.A.’s office over the years.

“A tight-knit community, law enforcement is frustrated. They are bringing these cases with retrieval from telephone evidence and toxicology. We can link the two together and the D.A.’s office will say, ‘Did you find any other pills that we can test?’ And the police say ‘no’ and the D.A.’s office does not want it. Moreover, overdose is the number one cause of death in this country under the age of forty.”  

At a Northeast Conservative forum, David continues, while pointing to Sheriff Calvin Hayden in the room. “This man, every time I have heard him speak he is telling you about the dangers of fentanyl. He tried to put a drug task force together with the seventeen law enforcement cities, and only one came to the task force, Shawnee. The D.A. is over all these agencies. Why isn’t he the central hub? Why isn’t Overland Park, Lenexa, Prairie Village working together to combat this?”

Indeed, in cities across the nation, police confront a skyrocketing number of deaths from a drug unlike any they have ever battled.

The potency of fentanyl – 100 times stronger than morphine and fifty times more than heroin – has overwhelmed medical examiners, devastated families, and frustrated prosecutors who often don’t have enough evidence to file charges after a death.

In Kansas City, just one seizure last year netted enough fentanyl to potentially kill more than 5 million people, and the bodies continue to pile up in 2023 across the area as low-level dealers regularly remain on the street, the Star investigation found.

Are our present laws good or do they need to be better?

David highlights these points:

– The laws are fine. As far as distribution is concerned it falls on the same scale as others; yet is far more lethal. A gram of fentanyl will do far more harm than Methamphetamine will. They both are lethal. We need a more aggressive pursuit of fentanyl. 

– Douglas County basically has legal Marijuana. A recent case had someone buying marijuana, which becomes a robbery and finalized in a murder. In Douglas County they do not care if someone is caught with some marijuana. Marijuana convictions come if guns are involved. 

– We do not have a good test for driving under the influence of Marijuana, and until that comes, making it legal could put a stamp of approval on a larger issue. Blood alcohol can be evaluated immediately. THC can stay in your system for lengthy periods. 

– Oklahoma had gangs buy up land to grow “legal” marijuana. They have had an influx of foreign-owned farms with connections to organized crime. (4)

– California can tax people for these “recreational” drugs. Buying cigarettes can cost $12.00 a pack. The middle-class American can buy the cigarettes or pot, go home and do their own thing. However, lower income people may buy the drug and not pay their rent or buy food for their children. David does not want to put people in jail for possession of marijuana. This does not mean it should not be criminalized, simply use Diversion. 

– David also wants stricter and long sentences for those with fentanyl and drug dealers in possession of a firearm. It needs to be prosecuted differently. 

David has worked in two counties where younger ages are entering into more serious crimes.

David knows the argument for the development of a teenager’s brain being not fully developed until possibly 25 years of age. However, they should know the difference between murder and petty theft. One does not come back from “murder” or “rape”.  David looks at priors and believes one can only say, “they’re young” as an excuse for so long.

Nevertheless, he had a case of a teenager whose father died of an overdose, and then the young man called in a bomb threat. He looked at his emotional and social situation for issues of age in determining what was appropriate as a resolution. 

I asked about racial issues. David feels we should probably be looking at social-economic issues. Poor communities tend to have higher crime. Skin color or nationality have never come into his thinking for criminal prosecution. David feels people who write and study these issues are looking at the wrong data. 

“A good District Attorney should be able to look at circumstances and adjust. For example, Johnson County has a standard DUI policy for first, second, third, etc. I had an attorney, who represented a woman from Texas. She was required to serve her time in Johnson County jail for two days and house arrest at her sick father’s house the rest of the time. Her dad has severe health issues and he brought documentation. If she gave him Covid he would die. We worked out those issues and found an appropriate resolution. It was best for everyone concerned.”

David hopes to create Trial Teams, making the District Attorney’s Office the central hub for information that can be passed to the seventeen agencies that appear to not be talking to each other well. He wants to build teams with Police, Courts and Corrections. They all should be talking to each other, comparing their resources and positions, to move the person back into society through a fair process and a stable rehabilitation unit. 


I work a great deal with grassroots groups and speak to citizens all over Johnson County, I had at least five people after the Northeast Conservatives forum express that the election issues are still a priority for their vote to go to a candidate. Media has attempted to silence or shame anyone around Election Integrity Issues.

After the Northeast Johnson County Forum, which had a high attendance where David Greenwald and Steve Howe went back and forth about issues, several audience members held the D.A.’s feet to the fire. One complaint was on personal issues, with a crime of a trespass to their property and how it was handled by the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. 

This meeting was less controlled, yet more informative than other meetings. 

David admitted his focus has been on drug related crime.

Yet, his irritation is with the way Steve Howe has handled his office and many diverse criminal cases.

(even the Sheriff’s controversial Konnech investigation, and the destruction of the ballots. More on this in another article.)

The Johnson County Election Office, with permission by the Board of County Commissioners and Secretary of State, proceeded to destroy ballots. So the audience asked specifically what David would do in the situation. 

David made it clear that he was not privy to discussions on the Election Investigation; however, the overall issues with many other investigations that the District Attorney’s office has participated in, he found were not taken seriously and often had lenient responses in the criminal’s favor.

During the Sunflower meeting, Steve Howe pointed out that under his watch, crime in Johnson County has stayed stagnant; despite the growth in the county. “When I took office, look at the KBI crime stats, back in 2009. Track them all the way to now. That is amazing. Jackson and Wyandotte have higher crime rates and are our neighbors. I have great law enforcement partners. Prosecutors and police officers are working together for safety. Johnson County Poll shows 90% feel safe.”

David responded, “Steve says Johnson County is not afraid to charge hard cases. This is not my experience. I charge hard cases” David points back to the Kansas City Star article in which JoCo, “had 148 people that peddled death and hurt and destroyed other families and did they charge? The answer is he charged 8. That is eight out of 148 cases.”

David gave an example: “A guy was picked up for Heroin. This was the second time in one month. It will be reported into his criminal history as picked up in JoCo first, with distribution of fentanyl. He got picked up in June 2023. He is a highly valued target. This guy has Intelligence going on. Steve’s office gave him probation. He is one of the most violent offenders you can get. His criminal history is absolutely top of the grid.  He is profiteering on death. He got probation. Because the office works on an island. They do not share intelligence. Vote for me and that will change.”

Steve Howe refers to Covid, which brought about the ”mass retirement exodus.” According to Steve Howe, Johnson County D.A. salaries were not up to par with others across the nation. The 2024 budget for Johnson County District Attorney’s Office was a ballpark of about $15 million. $13 million of that was allocated for personnel expenditures.

In 2010, the budget was $7 million with $6 million going to personnel. During Steve Howe’s last four terms in office, his budget has doubled, with the bulk going to salaries. (3)

Every year the goal as stated by the D.A. is to reduce the case load of 230 cases per attorney in 2010 to 145 cases per attorney in 2024 but there has been no improvement in results. 

The trial win record of the D.A.’s office is no longer being seen by the public. 

In 2008 it was 71% of their jury trials. 

Its biggest drop was in 2019 with 53%. 

After 2020 the office stopped publicly reporting trial statistics. 

The District Attorney’s Office has “hemorrhaged experienced staff” and as David points out, the D.A.’s office of Johnson County has competitive salaries and an excellent benefits package. So, begs the question, “In a great county” such as ours, “What is the problem?”

The present District Attorney’s office has lost its sex crimes unit and drug unit.

It lost the head of its traffic unit and the head of its economic crime unit.

An exodus of experienced and mid-level prosecutors left for a variety of reasons and were replaced with law school graduates and inexperienced prosecutors.

Today, 40% of Johnson County District Attorney’s have less than five years’ experience. 

This means we have less experienced prosecutors training the younger prosecutors to be able to step into leadership. 

In the last 20 years there has been a 20% drop in the public’s confidence that the District Attorney’s Office competently can prosecute criminals. (5)

It appears there has been a philosophy in the D.A.’s office that is failing.

Crime WILL stay stagnant in a county that is not prosecuting the cases, making the work of the law enforcement frustrating by sending people back out to get “MORE EVIDENCE.” While in the meantime, in the Cyber Election Crime world involving Konnech, evidence was literally destroyed, when it was requested not to be destroyed. (6)

While at the May 30, 2024 Department Head Presentations by both the Sheriff and also the District Attorney’s office, a key question going over the presentation notes that were not asked to the District Attorney’s office is, “Why is the D.A. asking for additional people when within the same presentation they’re saying their cases have decreased 23% and 13% in diversion cases?” 

Ironically, David points out one thorn in the side of the public is that Diversion is either (1) criminal case or (2) Traffic Diversion.  In a criminal case a person can apply and pay a fee. The amount is up front if the defendant is approved. However, Traffic Diversion has some fees that simply are meant to raise revenue for the District Attorney’s Office.

For example, filing for Diversion, paying the fee to keep it off the record to keep insurance down, makes sense. Yet, the D.A.’s office is pushing for things like expired license tags. They are pushing to receive Diversion to pay the fees when it has no benefit to the defendant. These things are not reported to insurance companies. 

David made one comment about the ballot warrant that Sheriff Hayden was seeking to obtain, “A warrant is not hard to obtain” yet it became difficult for the Sheriff’s office with the Sheriff saying that the 44-page warrant (reduced to 22 pages, to make it easier to preserve the ballots) to which the D.A. could then take to a judge, was the largest warrant ever presented to his knowledge. 

The First Strike – technically the first strike to character in the D.A. race came from Steve Howe, who publicly pointed fingers at David for encouraging people to get out and vote in the primary if they wanted him to be their candidate; stating it was “easy” to change parties if one wanted. 

Steve Howe wrote that his race was being targeted by Democrats as a priority.

David’s response was blatant – “He is a liar!”

David responds at the Sunflower Club after Steve’s opening about his achievements. And, coming out swinging he says, “It’s fun to have someone come out and give you a bunch of half-truths and a partial picture. It is something he’s been scolded for by the Disciplinary Administrator for lying to you and for giving you half the truth. And that is exactly what Steve just did. He gave you some of the truth. I heard him say before the Board of County Commissioners that he helped create a drug court. That is a lie. An outright falsehood. I can show you when he debated his Democrat opponent (Zack Thomas) that he said ‘drug courts do not work. I do not need one and I do not want one.’ Drug Courts do show to work. Douglas and Wyandotte both had them before Steve brought it to Johnson County, thus proving he did not start it.” (8) (9)

David lays out in an article on his website a consistent “half-truth” about the John Albers case in which Howe was “scolded by both the Kansas Office of Disciplinary Administrator and the Department of Justice. Yet, other cases have been sighted, like a road rage case against a JCCC employee who was caught on video during a road rage incident. The video is on David’s website

David wants the job because he can do the job.

Steve Howe stresses his years of experience to his Republican opponent.

“I was two years old when Steve began his work as a lawyer. I would hope the man has more experience than I do.  However, he ran on change and was about the same age as I am now.” 

For David Greenwald – he is the change that can be effective. 

I have no doubt he can perform the task far better than what is being done now.

This in-depth look indicates that there will be a fight ahead on many fronts, with fentanyl leading the pack – so perhaps your vote would be best served by the man who has the fire in his belly to stand toe-to-toe with those peddling death. 

1. https://www.greenwaldforda.com/

2. https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article281001098.html#storylink=cpy

3. https://www.greenwaldforda.com/post/steve-howe-doubled-the-budget-what-are-we-getting-in-return

4. https://www.newsnationnow.com/world/china/senator-chinese-organized-crime-outfit-set-sights-on-oklahoma/

5. https://www.jocogov.org/department/board-county-commissioners/board-surveys-and-reports/2024-community-survey

6. https://www.kctv5.com/2024/02/23/johnson-county-shredded-old-ballots-law-required-sheriff-wanted-save-them/

7. https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article282838538.html

8. https://lawrencekstimes.com/2024/06/07/drug-court-grads-2024-06/  Drug Courts Three new graduates of Douglas County drug court can now start with a clean slate and continue to build on the people they’ve grown to be throughout their time in the program.

9. https://m.youtube.com/watch?si=5rIwJEh1h8tIsbED&v=NYe0HvHIa-s&feature=youtu.be Debate with Zack Thomas four years ago. 

10. https://www.jocogov.org/department/budget-and-financial-planning/budget/proposed-budget


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