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Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kansas Equality Coalition challenges Pauls candidacy

June 14, 2012

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— A gay rights group that opposes the re-election of a House member has filed a complaint to remove her from the ballot.

Thomas Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition, has lodged a challenge to the candidacy of Jan Pauls, a Democrat from Hutchinson, who has served in the Legislature since 1991

Witt says Pauls is falsely claiming to be living in a church in order to establish residency to run for office in a re-drawn district.

But Pauls called the allegation "a real bogus claim" and said the Kansas Equality Coalition was out to end her legislative career because of her political stances.

Last week, a panel of three federal judges ordered new legislative district boundaries.

Pauls had represented the 102nd District but the new House map placed Pauls' home in the 104th, a Republican stronghold.

So, Pauls announced she was moving to within the re-drawn boundaries of the 102nd District where she and her husband own a former church. Under state law, a person must live in the district that he or she is running to represent. Pauls said she and her husband, Ron, are remodeling the church to live there.

But Witt said that was unbelievable. He said the building is considered a commercial structure by the city and county governments, no permits have been taken out to make it a residence and several Hutchinson residents have said there is no evidence that anyone is living there.

"Mrs. Pauls may have committed one or more criminal acts by registering to vote and filing to run for office from an address at which she has never resided, and at which she may not legally dwell," Witt said. Witt filed an objection to Pauls' candidacy which will be considered by a state board next week.

But Pauls, an attorney, said she and her husband are living at the church and have been moving there over the past few days.

"You know how it is when you are moving, you are going back and forth other there all the time," Pauls said.

Pauls said also owns a duplex next door to the church. Half of the duplex is empty, she said.

Pauls said she has no qualms about moving to stay in the 102nd. If she hadn't, she said, she would've had to say goodbye to 95 percent of her constituents.

Witt, whose organization advocates for the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender Kansans, and Pauls have been at odds before.

Pauls was a primary backer of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and supported the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, which was approved by the House during the last session, but wasn't voted on in the Senate. Some have said the act would have allowed discrimination against homosexuals and nullified a Lawrence ordinance that is designed to protect gays.

In the Aug. 7 Democratic primary, Pauls will face Erich Bishop. If she wins, she will then face Dakota Bass, who is unopposed in the Republican Party primary. Both Bass and Bishop have served as members of the Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Commission.

Pauls said Witt's residency challenge is because of her political positions. Witt said Pauls is flouting the law.

Comments

Steve Jacob 2 years, 6 months ago

While I feel sorry for candidates who had to move quickly due to late boundary changes, I think Kobach should be checking on the living arrangements of some of these people. If it's so important to have people show ID for elections now, you should need good proof to live in the district you are representing.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 2 years, 6 months ago

Why didn't Jan Pauls register at the vacant duplex that she owns while they bring the vacated church up to code for in-habitation? She knows the rules, she is a former judge, a current attorney, and has been an elected official for two decades. Book her, she's going down!

Jon Jambor 2 years, 6 months ago

What is the deal with these genital-centric organization like KEC? Always sticking their "nose" where it doesn't belong. What a bunch of bullies.

jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

What is the deal with people obsessed with others' sexual activities?

I'm glad that somebody's looking into whether or not this candidate is following the correct rules.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 6 months ago

I thought the church was god's house. Does Hutchinson have ordinances about multiple family dwellings?

George_Braziller 2 years, 6 months ago

I think it's rather sad that people like Gregory and Pauls are so caught up in the politics ego rush they're willing to pack up and move from their home just so they can run for office.

I know a woman who ran for the Kansas Legislature a few years ago who sold her house and moved to a different neighborhood just because she thought she'd have a better chance of being elected (she wasn't). Seems pretty shallow to me.

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