House Ethics launches investigation into Steve Watkins, despite lame-duck status

Kansas Republican faces felony charges over voting fraud allegations

Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kan., is facing a House Ethics Committee probe, despite his lame-duck status in Congress.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kan., is facing a House Ethics Committee probe, despite his lame-duck status in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 13, 2020 at 3:49pm

Kansas Republican Steve Watkins is facing felony charges and resigned from his seats on three House committees. Now the House Ethics Committee has impaneled an investigative subcommittee to examine the charges against Watkins, despite his lame-duck status as a member of Congress.

He was toppled by a GOP primary challenge on Aug. 4 and will not be on the ballot for reelection in November.

Watkins was charged July 14 with interference with law enforcement, providing false information; voting without being qualified; unlawful advance voting; and failing to notify the DMV of change of address. Watkins allegedly listed a UPS store address on his voter registration form.

Under the Ethics Committee’s own rules, the panel must decide within 30 days of a member being indicted or charged with criminal conduct whether to establish a subcommittee to look into the charges or issue a report to the House explaining reasons for not investigating further.

Anthony G. Brown, a Maryland Democrat, will chair the investigative subcommittee, and Pete Olson, a Texas Republican, will serve as the ranking member. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, and Ann Wagner, a Missouri Republican, will also investigate the matter on the subcommittee.

The House Ethics Committee typically ends inquiries once a lawmaker is out of Congress, whether by retirement or electoral defeat. If the subcommittee does not issue a report on Watkins by the end of the year, the investigation will likely end without a public outcome.

Bridget Bowman, Lindsey McPherson and Stephanie Akin contributed to this report.