Watkins’ actions, timing of charges suspect

"As satisfying as it may be to see as lightweight a politician as Watkins face the music, the charges do carry more than a whiff of politics. They came at the exact time that primary elections across the state were heating up."

By

Opinion

July 20, 2020 - 9:21 AM

President Donald Trump at a rally with Steve Watkins, then the Republican candidate for Kansas' 2nd Congressional district seat. Watkins was charged Tuesday with three felonies and a misdemeanor related to an investigation into whether he illegally voted in a 2019 municipal election. Photo by (Shelly Yang/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Questions have followed U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins from the campaign trail to Washington, D.C.

We don’t have the time or inclination to wade through all of the allegations here. Suffice to say that reporters dug into a sometimes-overinflated autobiography, and the stories have continued after the election. Watkins isn’t beloved by Republican insiders, and efforts to push him aside for another Republican candidate — say, state treasurer Jake LaTurner — have been ongoing.

That gives us context for the latest Watkins news eruption: the filing of felony charges against him by Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay. Watkins has been charged with interference with law enforcement, providing false information, voting without being qualified and unlawful advance voting. He also faces a misdemeanor charge for not telling the DMV about an address change.

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