Following Primary Loss, Kansas Rep. Watkins Faces House Ethics Investigation

August 14, 2020by Bryan Lowry, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)
Republican candidate for the U.S. House in Kansas' 2nd district Steve Watkins speaks at a rally with President Donald Trump at the Kansas Expocenter on October 6, 2018 in Topeka, Kansas. Watkins will face a House Ethics investigation during his final months in Congress. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Kansas Republican Rep. Steve Watkins will face a House Ethics investigation during his final months in Congress.

Watkins, a freshman Republican from Topeka, lost his primary last week to Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner after he was charged with three felonies in Shawnee County on July 14.

Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay’s office has accused Watkins of illegally voting in the 2019 municipal election and of lying to a Shawnee County detective.

Watkins has acknowledged that he voted in the wrong city council district after using the address of a Topeka UPS store on his voter registration, but he has denied intentional wrongdoing and decried his prosecution as politically motivated.

The U.S. House Committee on Ethics announced Thursday that it voted unanimously to establish an investigative subcommittee to determine whether Watkins “falsely reported information to a law enforcement officer” and “voted in an election district without being lawfully registered to vote.”

The panel will be led by Rep. Anthony Brown, a Maryland Democrat who represents the Washington suburbs.

Watkins, who stepped down from his committee assignments last month in face of the charges, did not immediately respond to a question about the House inquiry.

He made his first public comment since losing his primary on Thursday with a post on Twitter celebrating the news that Israel and the United Arab Emirates would normalize relations following U.S. diplomatic efforts.

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©2020 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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