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TOPEKA, KAN. — A apprentice Kansas agent who had listed a UPS Inc. postal box as his abode on a accompaniment aborigine allotment anatomy was answerable Tuesday with three felonies, including actionable voting.
The accuse adjoin GOP Rep. Steve Watkins came three weeks afore the state’s Aug. 4 primary acclamation with fellow Republicans blame to adios him from the eastern Kansas bench he almost won in 2018, alike admitting he’s abundantly toed the bourgeois action band and accurate President Donald Trump. GOP critics already had afraid that the months-long analysis into whether Watkins abandoned accompaniment acclamation laws puts the 2nd Commune bench in comedy if he wins the primary.
Watkins declared the accuse “hyper-political” alike admitting the commune advocate who filed them additionally is a Republican. The agent said during a televised agitation Tuesday black that he hadn’t apparent the accuse but has done annihilation wrong.
“I’ll get my name exonerated,” he said during his closing statement.
The accuse were filed in accompaniment commune cloister in Shawnee County, which includes Watkins’ hometown, the accompaniment basic of Topeka. Commune Advocate Mike Kagay appear them beneath than bisected an hour afore the three GOP candidates’ alone appointed agitation began on three stations.
The UPS postal box was listed as Watkins’ residential abode for aborigine allotment purposes back he casting a mail-in acclamation for a bounded burghal lath and academy lath acclamation in November 2019. He later changed his residential listing.
The best austere bent allegation accuses Watkins of voting in the 2019 bounded burghal and academy lath acclamation afterwards actuality qualified. A first-time blackmailer who’s bedevilled could face a year in prison, admitting the added archetypal book would be two years’ probation.
Kagay additionally answerable Watkins with voting illegally in beforehand and interfering with law administration by accouterment apocryphal information. Both felonies could accompany up to seven months in prison, admitting a year’s acquittal is the accepted sentence.
Watkins additionally was answerable with declining to acquaint the accompaniment Division of Vehicles of a change of address, a misdemeanor.
Kagay’s advertisement did not accommodate capacity about the declared crimes, and the commune advocate said in an email that he could not altercate them “until they are presented in accessible court.” A audition in the case was set for Dec. 3 — a ages afterwards the November accepted election.
Watkins faces Accompaniment Treasurer Jake LaTurner and Dennis Taylor, a Topeka attorney, agent and above top ambassador at several accompaniment agencies. LaTurner said the accuse accomplish the primary challenge a two-person chase amid him and Taylor.
“We allegation to put our best bottom forward,” LaTurner said during his aperture agitation statement. “Clearly, our accepted congressman, with three abomination accuse and a abomination charge, is not the actuality to do that.”
Some Republicans had abiding misgivings about Watkins alike afore questions about his aborigine registrations. He is a above Army administrator and aggressive architect who lived best of his developed activity alfresco Kansas and hadn’t voted in its accompaniment or federal contest until active for Congress.
Watkins won the November 2018 accepted acclamation by beneath than a allotment point in a GOP-leaning commune that Trump agitated by a advanced allowance in 2016.
The accepted Democratic appointee this year is Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla. The civic Democratic Party has said it sees “an opportunity” to aces up the seat.
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“If you appetite to be trusted to abode our laws, you should at atomic chase them,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement.
Watkins filed a accompaniment aborigine allotment anatomy in backward August 2019 advertisement a postal box at a UPS abundance in southwest Topeka as his residential address. The postal box still was listed as his residential abode back he casting a mailed-in acclamation that included a Topeka Burghal Lath chase in November.
The agent and his agents accept said he aback listed his commitment abode instead of his residential abode by mistake.
Watkins filed a new anatomy in December advertisement an abode at an accommodation circuitous about 2 afar arctic of the UPS abundance as his residence, but it was the abode for the complex’s office. That abode was not in the aforementioned Burghal Lath commune as the UPS abundance but in a commune with no lath chase aftermost year.
In January, Watkins filed addition anatomy advertisement addition abode for an accommodation in the aforementioned circuitous as his residence.
The Shawnee County sheriff’s administration began investigating Watkins’ aborigine registrations in December. In backward May, Kagay said in an email that his appointment had advised the analysis and “requested chase up be conducted on a specific issue,” afterwards actuality added specific.
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