Hey Kris Kobach, Found Yr Voter Fraud! It's This Kansas GOP Idiot Congressman, Allegedly!
Former Kansas secretary of State, current Senate candidate, and known loser Kris Kobach has annoyed us all with his relentless, Javert-esque pursuit of imaginary voter fraud. Well, finally, at long last, we've found some for him, and it's right under his stupid nose.
Republican Steve Watkins, who represents Kansas's second congressional district, is facing criminal charges for registering to vote last year using a UPS storefront in Topeka, which is not his official residence. He applied for a mail-in ballot with this fake address, which let him vote in a different city council district race than he would have normally. That race was decided by 13 votes.
Watkins contends he made a simple mistake, the kind that Republicans normally prosecute the fuck out of if you're Black.
Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay charged Watkins with three felonies: 1) interference with law enforcement, providing false information (yes, that's how the charge is worded); 2) voting without being qualified; and 3) unlawful advance voting. He also slapped Watkins with failing to tell the Department of Motor Vehicles about a change of address, which is a misdemeanor you have probably committed at some point.
'This Is Clearly Hyper-Political' Kansas Rep. Watkins Responds To Voter Fraud Charges | NBC News NOW www.youtube.com
Watkins insists he did nothing wrong, although the “interference with law enforcement" charge alleges Watkins lied to a cop in February 2020 with the intent to “influence, impede or obstruct" the investigation. Everybody knows you're not allowed to do that unless you're helping a fellow officer cover up a police shooting.
The congressman questioned the timing of the charges during the unfortunately timed GOP primary debate Tuesday night.
WATKINS: This is very suspicious. It seems highly political. We've cooperated with the district attorney completely [ ... ] I look forward to clearing my name. I've done nothing wrong, and I look forward to setting the record straight.
Watkins pointed out that his opponent, Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner, shares a political consultant with the district attorney, which could prove a decent lead for "Law & Order" Detectives Briscoe and Green but it felt like straw-clutching in this context.
WATKINS: That's pretty suspicious itself!
Is it? Are there a lot of political consultants in Kansas? Dude, don't try to crack this case yourself. It's like you're already in the middle of The Fugitive.
Kagay blamed COVID-19 shutdowns for the delay between when the story broke about Watkins' high-stakes vote heist and actually filing charges. LaTurner said the charges disqualify Watkins and that it's now a “two-person race" between himself and Dennis Taylor, who was last seen losing the 2018 Republican primary for secretary of state.
Democrats didn’t like the outcome of the 2016 election, so now they’re trying to impeach @realDonaldTrump #KS02… https://t.co/afXTQiec7r— Rep. Steve Watkins (@Rep. Steve Watkins) 1573842133.0
Kris Kobach has argued forever that voter fraud is a “national calamity" (it's not). He's based his career on this one issue, along with hating immigrants. But Kobach's voter fraud crusade isn't about protecting the sanctity of our democracy. It's about keeping Black and brown people from voting and sending them away for a long time if they make a single misstep.
The rate of incarcerations in Kansas has grown dramatically for the past 40 years. (People of color are grossly over-represented in the prison system.) The state's incarceration rate is equal to the United States as a whole and is several times greater than the United Kingdom and Canada. Do they grow serial killers in the wheat fields?
Some might make an argument that even if Watkins is guilty, what he did wasn't that bad. But we don't think you can have that argument unless you're also talking about it in context of the GOP's relentless campaign to keep Black and brown people away from the polls, up to and including using bogus claims of voter fraud to make that happen.
Until then, hey Kris Kobach, we found the voter fraud you were looking for! It was right here the whole time! (Allegedly!)
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."