TOPEKA, Kan. — U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, who represents Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, has been charged with voter fraud in a 2019 election.
Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced Tuesday he has charged Watkins with four counts:
- Interference with law enforcement by providing false information, felony;
- Voting without being qualified, felony;
- Unlawful advance voting, felony;
- And failing to notify the DMV of change of address, misdemeanor.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office after the allegations were brought to the district attorney’s attention in December 2019. Both Kagay and Sheriff Brian Hill are Republicans.
The allegations stem from the November 2019 election. The Republican congressman allegedly listed a UPS store in southwest Topeka as his address on a voter registration form and also allegedly obtained a mail-in ballot for the election.
Last year, a spokesman for Watkins said it was an inadvertent mistake that will be corrected. But Watkins’ use of the address raised a question of whether he improperly cast a vote in a local City Council race.
Court documents further detailing Tuesday’s charges were not immediately available.
In a televised FOX4 debate between Watkins and his Republican primary opponents, he addressed the charges, saying he hasn’t done anything wrong. He called them “suspicious” and said they seemed “highly political.”
“I look forward to clearing my name,” he said.
Hear more from Watkins in the video player above.
Watkins is running for re-election this year, facing Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner and former department of administration secretary Dennis Taylor in the Republican primary this August.
A campaign spokesperson released the following response later Tuesday night:
“Give us a break. 30 minute before the first televised debate and the day before early voting starts, the DA – who shares a political consultant with our primary opponent Jake LaTurner – files these bogus charges. They couldn’t have been more political if they tried.
“Just like President Trump, Steve is being politically prosecuted by his opponents who can’t accept the results of the last election.
“Kansans and Americans are tired of these kinds of silly games. This is a desperate political attack by a desperate political campaign on its last dying breath down twenty points. Jake LaTurner is hell bent on seeing Democrat’s win and undermining Republicans at every turn.”