Kansas congressman faces felony charges related to 2019 local election

Watkins specifically faces felony criminal charges of interference with law enforcement, providing false information; voting without being qualified; unlawful advance voting; and a misdemeanor charge of failing to notify the DMV of change of address.News of the charges came moments before Watkins, who is up for reelection in Kansas' second congressional district, appeared in a primary debate. Asked about the charges, Watkins said they were "very suspicious" and said he looked forward to clearing his name. "This is clearly hyper-political. It comes out moments before our first debate and three weeks before the election. I haven't done anything wrong," he said, adding that he hadn't yet seen the charges. "I simply know that I look forward to clearing my name. I've done nothing wrong and look forward to setting the record straight."Watkins appeared to address the substance of at least one of the charges, stating, "As soon as I had realized that I had put my mailing address instead of my physical address we fixed it."In a statement, Bryan Piligra — a spokesman for Watkins' reelection campaign — called the charges "bogus.""Give us a break. 30 minutes before the first televised debate and the day before early voting starts, the DA — who shares a political consultant with our primary opponent Jake LaTurner — files these bogus charges. They couldn't have been more political if they tried," Piligra said."Just like President Trump, Steve is being politically prosecuted by his opponents who can't accept the results of the last election. Kansans and Americans are tired of these kinds of silly games. This is a desperate political attack by a desperate political campaign on its dying breath down twenty points. Jake LaTurner is hell bent on seeing Democrat's win and undermining Republicans at every turn." Watkins was first elected to Congress in 2018 after mounting a furious push to save the vulnerable 2nd District seat that had been in the Republican Party's control for a decade.But despite winning the election, his ethics were called into question multiple times throughout the campaign. Watkins had told voters that he started and grew a defense contracting company from scratch. Then the Kansas City Star reported, based on interviews with company officials and records, the company existed before he joined as a consultant.Watkins told CNN in 2018 he wasn't misleading voters."See, I didn't own the company," he said. "But I helped start and grow it operationally. And that's where they're thinking that they're fashioning me as the liar. That's simply not true."Still other embarrassing stories plagued his campaign, including one from The Associated Press calling into question a 2015 expedition he took on Mount Everest when a major earthquake occurred in Nepal. Watkins' campaign website quoted an individual who said he showed "heroic leadership amid the chaos." But that man, Guy Cotter, told the APRead More – Source

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