Two days after James Thompson won the Democratic nomination to run against Ron Estes for Congress, state Republicans released documents claiming Thompson had beaten patrons while tending bar at an Old Town club, allegations the Thompson campaign says are lies that have been disproved in court.
The state GOP launched a website Thursday containing Wichita Municipal Court documents indicating that Thompson was convicted of simple battery and sentenced to pay a $100 fine and $125 in court costs in connection with a June 2001 dust-up at Acapulco Joe’s, a bar where Thompson worked summers as a bartender and bouncer while attending law school.
“James Thompson’s past criminal record is very troubling and something that every 4th District voter should be aware of,” Kansas Republican Party Director Jim Joice said in a statement.
Documents obtained by The Eagle show that Thompson appealed the Municipal Court battery conviction to Sedgwick County District Court.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
There, the battery charge was dropped and Thompson pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and paid the $225 in fines and court costs, records show.
The specific section Thompson pleaded to is 5.04.010 (c) of the Wichita city code: “Using fighting words or engaging in noisy conduct tending to reasonably arouse alarm, anger or resentment in others.”
His campaign’s statement said that Thompson worked several jobs to pay his way through law school at Washburn University.
“One of those jobs was as a bartender and bouncer at a nightclub in Wichita’s Old Town district,” the statement said. “As any service industry worker can tell you, getting into legal issues after dealing with intoxicated patrons is extremely common and often overturned by the courts on appeal, which happened in the 2001 case.”
The Republicans’ other allegation was based on a case of identity theft, and Thompson had nothing to do with it, the campaign said.
One document released by the Republicans was a police report filed in 2000 by a woman who claimed Thompson slapped her at the bar, injuring her eye.
“The charges involving violence against women are particularly troubling,” the Republican statement by Joice said.
The Thompson campaign said that case was dismissed after it was found that the man who hit the woman had falsely identified himself to police as Thompson.
“Kansas Republicans are lying,” the statement said. “Today, on a deceptive smear site funded by the Kansas Republican Party, Ron Estes allies drudged up an intentionally-falsified police report that wrongly named James Thompson as the perpetrator of a crime.
“Thompson was unaware of this claim until he applied to take the Kansas Bar Exam after law school, at which point he found out that another person had falsely given Thompson’s name to the police instead of his own. The allegations against Thompson were proven false,” the statement continued.
Contributing: Chance Swaim of The Eagle