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US Representative Steve Watkins charged with voter fraud
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US Representative Steve Watkins charged with voter fraud

The Shawnee County District Attorney filed criminal voter fraud charges against US Representative Steve Watkins (R-KA) on Tuesday, following an investigation by the county Sheriff’s Office.

District Attorney Mike Kagay filed four separate charges against Watkins: (1) interference with law enforcement and providing false information; (2) voting without being qualified; (3) unlawful advance voting; and (4) failing to notify the DMV of change of address. The District Attorney announced that these charges stem from Watkins voting in the 2019 local election.

Last year, the Congressman changed his residency, signed an application for a mail-in ballot, and then used the ballot to vote in a local election in November. Watkins’ address was changed to a UPS storefront, which changed his residency from the Topeka City Council’s 5th to the 8th District. The election for the 8th district was won by 13 votes.

On the day the District Attorney filed the charges, Watkins had a debate with other GOP congressional candidates. In response to the charges, the Congressman said, “This is clearly hyperpolitical. This comes out moments before our first debate and three weeks before the election. … This is very suspicious.” He also mentioned that the District Attorney shares a consultant with one of Watkins’ opponents. The Sheriff’s Office stated that the investigation had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The charges against Watkins could cost him his seats on the committees for Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Veterans Affairs’ as GOP Conference rules demand anyone indicted for serious felonies leave those positions.