Watkins says he didn’t lie about incorrect voting form information

photo by: Associated Press

Steve Watkins speaks at an election night rally in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins of Kansas gave seemingly contradictory answers when questioned Tuesday about an incorrect voting registration form that led to three felony charges against him.

Watkins, a Republican, told The Kansas City Star that he did not tell a criminal investigator that a staff member filed a voting registration form that listed a postal box in Topeka as his home address for part of 2019. But Watkins later said the voter registration form was completed as a “collegial effort” with his staff.

Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay, who filed the charges against Watkins, said in a court filing the first-term congressman lied to a detective who was investigating the allegations about the incorrect address.

Watkins acknowledged he voted in the wrong district in a Topeka City Council race in 2019 but said that was “a mistake, not a felony.”

“I wasn’t hiding the ball,” Watkins said. “I know that my address is public, so if I were to claim to live somewhere that I actually don’t, why on Earth would I choose a retail location where you can’t possibly live? I would choose a residential location.”

When pressed on whether he told the investigator a staff member submitted the incorrect form on his behalf, Watkins said his comment was taken out of context.

“My office is like every other office; the product that we produce is a collegial effort between more than one person. That’s all I was saying. It was taken out of context,” Watkins said.

Watkins is running for reelection in the Kansas 2nd Congressional District. In the GOP primary, he will face State Treasurer Jake LaTurner and Dennis Taylor, who served in several roles in the administrations of Republican Govs. Mike Hayden and Sam Brownback.

In the interview, Watkins repeatedly accused LaTurner and Kagay of colluding to bring the felony case against him. He also said the case will not influence his reelection chances.

“Kansas voters are smart. They can see through these bogus allegations, and they see that there’s a blatant donor and consultant link between the DA and LaTurner,” Watkins said.


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