Lawmaker alleges perjury in Johnson County House race
TOPEKA — A Democratic state lawmaker said Tuesday that he is asking Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office and the Johnson County district attorney to open a criminal investigation to determine whether a Republican candidate for the House and his wife committed perjury by falsely claiming to live at an address in the 26th District.
Rep. Vic Miller, D-Topeka, an attorney representing the Democratic candidate in that race, Deann Mitchell, said during a news conference Tuesday that the Republican candidate, Adam T. Thomas, changed his voter registration on May 31, shortly before the June 1 filing deadline, stating that he now lived at a duplex on East 152nd Street in Olathe, which is in the 26th District.
His wife, Kristen Thomas, changed her registration the following day.
photo by: Peter Hancock
Also on May 31, Adam Thomas filed paperwork to form a campaign committee, naming his wife as treasurer. On that form, however, they listed their previous address on South Apache Lane, which is in the 78th District, a seat currently held by Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman. They later filed amended forms that same day correcting their address.
However,in an affidavit dated June 9, the owner of the East 152nd Street property, Brook Macdonald, states that she does not have a lease with Thomas, that she is not familiar with Thomas and that the person leasing the property is named Jacob Swisher.
Swisher, according to campaign finance records, was a contributor to Thomas’ campaign when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Olathe City Council in 2017.
“If the facts as I presented them in my letter are true, I can’t see how it is not election perjury,” Miller said.
In an email statement released late Tuesday afternoon, however, Thomas said he and his family, including the couple’s four children, were staying with a friend at the 152nd Street address temporarily while waiting to close on a new home they are purchasing in the district.
“We take possession of our new home on July 5th, which left us a few weeks between leaving our old home and moving into our new home,” he said in the statement. “In the interim, as many families in our situation have done, we are staying at the home of a friend and have forwarded our mail to this address. Notably, this temporary residence is also in the 26th District and nearby our new home.”
Under a Kansas statute, election perjury is defined, in part, as knowingly making false statements or declarations “in answer to questions put by a county election officer or deputy county election officer relating to application for voter registration of any person.”
The crime is classified as a severity level nine nonperson felony.
The 26th District seat is an open race this year. The district was last won by former Rep. Larry Campbell, who was named Gov. Jeff Colyer’s budget director earlier this year. GOP precinct committee members in the district named Frank Trimboli to fill the vacancy, but Trimboli did not file to run for a full term this year.
Mitchell and Thomas are the only major party candidates on the ballot in that race.
Miller’s complaint against Thomas is the second such challenge Democrats have made so far this election cycle. On Monday, the State Objections Board denied a challenge Miller filed on behalf of a Democratic candidate in the 85th District of Wichita against Republican Michael Capps.
Miller said he believes the case against Thomas is even stronger because Capps actually owns the property he claimed to be his legal residence, although there was disputed evidence that Capps didn’t actually live there.
In the case of Thomas, he said, there is evidence that he not only doesn’t live at the address but that the owner of the address has attested since he filed for office that he does not live there and she does not know him.
Ed. note: This story was updated June 12 at 5:44 p.m.