Politics

Representative Steve Watkins charged with three voter-fraud related felonies and a misdemeanor

PHOTO CREDITS: POLITICO

Representative Steve Watkins, a Republican from Kansas, was charged with three voter-fraud related felonies and a misdemeanor earlier this week. According to Shawnee City Records, District Attorney Mike Kagay charged Watkins with interference with law enforcement providing false information, voting without being qualified, unlawful advance voting, and failing to notify the DMV of change of address. These charges solidify allegations that surfaced in 2019 that said Watkins registered the address of a Topeka, Kansas UPS store as his home address for the 2019 election, leaving Topekas’ 5th District for the 8th. Watkins then voted in an 8th District election decided by a mere 13 votes. ~

Shortly after Watkins was charged with these crimes, he spoke in a televised debate, during which he said that the accusations were a political move by his opposition. Watkins defended his actions, simply stating that he wrote his mailing address instead of his physical address. However, Watkins signed his ballot envelope during the 2019 election, affirming that the address of the UPS store was his Topeka Residence. ~

Watkins has faced criticism from his opposition, mainly from Republican Jake LaTurner and presumptive Democratic nominee and Mayor of Topeka Michelle De La Isla. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Brooke Goren commented on the situation, saying, “If you want to be trusted to write our laws, you should at least follow them. Steve Watkins has proven that he can’t pass this basic test.” Watkin’s other competition, Republican Dennis Taylor, said that U.S Representatives have bigger things to worry about. “We’re in a war, and that’s what we ought to be focused on,” Taylor commented, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Taylor called the situation, “a sideshow”. ~

It is unclear whether or not the charges filed against Watkins will affect his standing on Capitol hill. However, rules were set in 2018 for House GOP members, which said that any committee member indicted on a felony would be “required to submit a resignation from their role to the House promptly.” This would cause Watkins to lose his committee assignments in the House, a major blow to his reelection campaign. ~

ARTICLE: ABI YARBROUGH

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