Politics

Kansas Freshman GOP Rep. Watkins Charged With Felonies in Voter Fraud Case

Kansas GOP Rep. Steve Watkins was charged on July 14 with three felonies and a misdemeanor linked to a probe into whether he voted illegally in a municipal election last year.

The charges, which stem from Watkins registering to vote using the address of a UPS storefront, were announced by Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay on Tuesday evening, shortly before the freshman Republican was scheduled to appear in a televised debate with two GOP challengers.

It came just weeks before his first primary to defend his congressional seat.

Kagay filed multiple felony counts against Watkins, which stem from a ballot he cast in the Topeka City Council election in November 2019.

The charges include interference with law enforcement; providing false information; voting without being qualified; and unlawful advance voting. Watkins was also charged with a misdemeanor for failing to inform the Department of Motor Vehicles about a change of address.

Watkins called the timing of the charges “clearly hyper-political” and “very suspicious.” They were announced some 45 minutes before GOP candidates for the 2nd Congressional District were due to debate on television. He dismissed the charges.

“Weve cooperated with the district attorney completely,” Watkins said. “I look forward to clearing my name. Truly, the timing is suspicious.”

For the local election last year, Watkins in August used the address of a Topeka UPS store on his voter registration, before signing an application for a mail-in ballot in October. He also allegedly voted in the wrong city council district.

Watkinss office at the time said he had made an error and filled in his campaigns mailing address instead of his home address.

In December he changed the address to an apartment complex in the city, about 2 miles north of the UPS store, but it was the address for the complexs office. That address was not in the same city council district as the UPS store but in a district with no council race last year.

In January, Watkins filed another form listing another address for an apartment in the same complex as his residence.

“I havent done anything wrong,” Watkins said at the start of Tuesdays debate. “As soon as I realized that I had put my mailing address instRead More From Source

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