Government & Politics

Watkins and GOP denounce allegations of sexual advances

Who is Kansas GOP nominee Steve Watkins?

Congressional candidate Steve Watkins inflated his role as a defense contractor in the Middle East by telling voters he built a company from scratch. He didn’t.
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Congressional candidate Steve Watkins inflated his role as a defense contractor in the Middle East by telling voters he built a company from scratch. He didn’t.

Steve Watkins and the Kansas GOP are denouncing a report of a woman saying she dealt with unwanted sexual advances from the Republican candidate.

A report from The Topeka Capital-Journal detailed the experiences of Chelsea Scarlett, an Alaska woman who said Watkins made unwanted sexual advances more than a decade ago. Watkins, a Topeka Republican, is running against Democrat Paul Davis for the open 2nd congressional district U.S. House seat.

“If I was one of those people on the fence saying, ‘I’m really not sure,’ I can tell you there’s a girl in Alaska who knows,” Scarlett told the newspaper. “I’m concerned this is the guy who’s going to represent you.”

Watkins statements to the paper in response to the story compared the situation Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced during his confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

“Another day, another round of second-hand, third-hand and anonymous ‘sources’ pushing Brett Kavanaugh-style destruction politics — this time, conveniently days before Election Day,” Watkins said in a statement to the newspaper.

“These charges are so preposterous they don’t deserve the dignity of a response or publication, but Republicans face this kind of assault from the media every day.”

Jim Joice, the executive director of the Kansas GOP, struck a similar tone about the story.

“This is the same type of smear campaign we saw the left run against Justice Kavanaugh,” Joice said in a text message.

Other questions have been raised about Watkins’ past.

A Star investigation last month found Watkins inflated his role as a defense contractor in the Middle East by telling voters he owned a company he built from scratch, when that was not the case.

In an Associated Press report, people from Watkins’ past cast doubt on his adventuring claims, including facts involving his 2015 attempt to be the first person to race in the Iditarod and scale Mount Everest in the same year.

A day after the allegation became public, a text message circulated that linked to a National Republican Congressional Committee ad attacking Davis over a past controversy.

“Paul Davis + a strip-club+drug bust+a greedy lawyer...what does it all add up to? Watch now to find out.”

The attack is a remix of one used by the GOP in 2014 when Davis ran against then Gov. Sam Brownback. In that race, Republicans attacked him over reports that he’d been at a strip club when it was raided in a search for drugs 16 years earlier.

The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this report

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