Politics & Government

Wichita GOP candidate to stay on ballot after residency challenge

Kansas House candidate Michael Capps, left, answers questions after the State Objections Board upheld his candidacy on June 11, 2018.
Kansas House candidate Michael Capps, left, answers questions after the State Objections Board upheld his candidacy on June 11, 2018. The Wichita Eagle

A Wichita Republican House candidate whose Democratic opponent accused him of listing a foreclosed house as his residence will remain on the ballot after a panel led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach voted unanimously to dismiss a complaint against him.

Republican candidate Michael Capps sat quietly Monday as Vic Miller, an attorney for Democratic candidate Monica Marks, called him a liar again and again during a hearing of the State Objections Board.

Capps listed 3103 N. Governeour as his residence when he filed to run for office on June 1. But Marks alleged he actually lived at 2832 S. Chase Avenue.

During the hearing, Capps said he began living in the Governeour location on May 5, which he has owned for several years. He said he had previously moved to the South Chase Avenue location because the home needed extensive repairs.

But a form filed with the Secretary of State’s office on May 16, and bearing Capps’ electronic signature, listed his address on South Chase.

“At this point, I can’t speak to it since it wasn’t a transaction I had done myself. I’ll have to look into it with my campaign folks to find out if somebody made an error somewhere,” Capps said.

Miller also focused on a stone that says “Capps” that was sitting in front of the South Chase property but was later moved to Governeour after Marks filed her objection.

“Lo and behold, after it is pointed out that it was at one address, it floats from that address to his supposed, his alleged, his lied about vacant property that’s been foreclosed on, on Governeour,” Miller said.

Capps acknowledged he moved the stone after Marks complained because the “optics” of it sitting in front of the other location were bad.

Court records show that the Governeour house, which belonged to Capps, was foreclosed in January and granted to the bank that holds the mortgage.

But Capps said he has always maintained ownership of the home, according to records with the register of deeds. He said a bankruptcy filing related to the sale of his business had affected his mortgage but that the property has always been deeded to him.

Attempts to contact Capps last week when Marks filed her complaint were unsuccessful. But Capps said Monday he was in the Dominican Republican June 1 through June 7.

Capps had previously filed to run in House District 97 using the South Chase address, but filed on June 1 in District 85 using the Governeour address after Rep. Chuck Weber withdrew his re-election bid there.

Capps acknowledged that it took him about two weeks after moving into the Governeour home on May 5 before he dropped out of the District 97 race.

The State Objections Board has typically defined residency as someone living on the property claimed, or if absent, intending to return and reside there indefinitely. The board, which includes Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann, invoked that standard in voting on the Capps case (Schmidt and Mann sent proxies, while Kobach appeared in person).

“Although this obviously is a factually complex case … there’s nothing in Kansas law that prohibits a person from rapidly changing residences,” Kobach said.

Afterward, Miller didn’t rule out legal action over Capps’ candidacy, but said he would have to confer with Marks.

“I have faith in the voters. And when the voters find out what a sleaze ball they have to choose among or between these two people, I think they’ll do the right thing,” Miller said.

Capps dismissed Miller’s accusations that he’s a liar as “rhetoric.”

“He’s certainly entitled to his opinion, but the facts speak for themselves,” Capps said.

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