Politics & Government

GOP appoints Michael Capps to empty Kansas House seat; Democrats push for grand jury probe

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

Michael Capps was chosen to fill Chuck Weber’s Kansas House seat in District 85 Saturday, a month after Kansas Democrats lost a challenge over whether or not Capps actually lived in the district.

Capps had previously filed to run in House District 97 — in southwest Wichita — using an address on South Chase, but filed on June 1 using an address in District 85 after Weber withdrew his re-election bid.

Democrats have alleged that Capps doesn’t live in a house at 3103 N. Governeour, where he registered to vote and which he used as his address when he filed to run in the Nov. 6 election. That home had been foreclosed and was his sixth address in the last three years. It was scheduled to be auctioned off June 27, according to court documents.

Weber, a former television news producer at KWCH-TV, resigned July 14 and registered as a lobbyist for the Kansas Catholic Conference. He was appointed in January 2016 after Steve Brunk, who was elected to the seat, resigned and registered as a lobbyist for the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas.

Capps’s opponent in the November elections is Monica Marks. The state Objections Board in June denied a residency challenge seeking to kick Capps off the ballot. The Objections Board is made up of Lt. Gov. Tracy Mann, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, all Republicans. They can send proxies from their department in their place for hearings, which Mann and Schmidt both did.

The Sedgwick County Republican committee announced Capps’ selection Saturday by email and said the committee met at the Estes for Congress and 4th District Republican Party Headquarters. The release did not detail the selection process, and neither Capps nor the committee were available for comment Saturday afternoon.

The release said Capps is a lifelong Wichitan and single father of a college-age son. It says Capps is an entrepreneur and “a devoted social and fiscal conservative.”

Wichita Democratic precinct committeeman Levi Henry has been trying to collect 2,959 valid voter signatures before mid-August that would force a court to form a grand jury that would decide if Capps should be charged with election perjury and voter fraud. At Friday’s “Unite for America Rally” which featured Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promoting Kansas congressional candidate James Thompson, Henry said he collected 1,500 signatures.

District 85 includes sections of Wichita, Bel Aire, Kechi and Benton.

Capps has ownership interests in five Wichita companies, according to a Statement of Substantial Interest form filed with the Secretary of State last month. Those companies include Ray Alan and Associates, Inc.; Krivacy LLC; Midwest Business Group LLC; Baysinger Capps and Associates LLC; and Alliance Bail Bonds LLC. His is also listed as the director of Passageways Ltd. in Wichita.

The filing, which was submitted to the state June 18, lists Capps’ home address as 3103 N Governeour St.

The release from the Sedgwick County Republican committee says Capps is expected to be sworn in sometime in the next week and will serve the remainder of the term.

Chance Swaim: 316-269-6752, @byChanceSwaim