A Kansas GOP congressman has been charged with three felonies because he listed a UPS Inc. postal box as his residence on a state voter registration form.
GOP Congressman Faces Charges
On July 14, 2020, GOP Rep. Steve Watkins was charged with illegal voting, among other things, Fox 8 reports.
The state’s primary election is heating up and other Republicans are trying to eliminate Watkins. The freshman representative barely won the seat in 2018 even though he is relatively conservative and a supporter of President Trump.
— Rep. Steve Watkins (@Rep_Watkins) November 15, 2019
Watkins has come out against the charges and called it “hyper-political.” His critics bring up that the district attorney who filed the charges is also a Republican.
During a televised debate on Tuesday, Watkins claimed he did nothing wrong and said, “I’ll get my name exonerated.”
The announcement from District Attorney Mike Kagay of the charges came just a half-hour before the three GOP candidates’ debate was supposed to go on air.
Honest Mistake or Purposeful Plan?
Watkins had listed a UPS postal box as his residential address and cast a mail-in ballot for both a local city council and school board election last year. He later changed his residential address listing.
Out of all the charges, the one that carries the most significant sentence is that Watkins was not qualified to vote in the 2019 local city and school board election. The sentence could range anywhere from a year in prison to two years’ probation.
The other charges include voting illegally in advance and providing law enforcement with false information. Both felonies could hold a seven months prison sentence.
The GOP congressman and his staff members said that there was an inadvertent mix up when he listed his mailing address instead of his residential address. He claims that it was just an honest mistake.
Democrats Salivating at Taking Possible Seat
Watkins’ challengers include State Treasurer Jake LaTurner and Dennis Taylor, a Topeka attorney, businessman, and former top administrator at several state agencies.
“We need to put our best foot forward,” LaTurner said during the Tuesday debate. “Clearly, our current congressman, with three felony charges and a misdemeanor charge, is not the person to do that.”
Democrats are giddy with the circumstances, but Watkins has not had great support with Republicans either. Watkins has lived outside of Kansas for most of his life and did not vote in the state’s elections until he ran for Congress.
Odds Don’t Look Good for the GOP Contender
In 2016, Donald Trump won by a significant margin in this district, which leans conservative. However, the GOP congressman only won by less than a percentage point in the November 2018 general election.
Democrats have their eyes on Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, who is the presumed Democratic nominee. With the controversy surrounding Watkins, they are thrilled at the prospect of taking the seat.