WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Local Republican leaders called Friday for a GOP legislator from Wichita to resign after a newspaper investigation linked him to an ad that falsely suggested that a Democratic colleague running for mayor had been accused of sexual harassment at the Statehouse.
The demand from the Sedgwick County GOP’s top officers came a little more than a year after a previous call from Republicans for Rep. Michael Capps to step down over a woman’s allegations that he kissed and hugged two young boys in her foster home and allowed them to sit in his lap and rub his chest. He called those allegations “categorically false,” was not charged with a crime and won the 2018 election.
The Wichita Eagle reports that local Republican leaders called Friday for Capps’ resignation after the newspaper also reported that a Capps-owned company was the original owner of a website domain name mirroring the name of a company that paid for the ad last month against Democratic Rep. Brandon Whipple.
Also, the newspaper found, the firm paying for the ad and Capps’ company listed the same Wyoming address and used services offered by a mail-forwarding company at that same address.
Whipple hopes to unseat Mayor Jeff Longwell in Tuesday’s election. Capps contributed $100 to Longwell’s campaign, but Longwell said he returned it because his campaign won’t have anything to do with “anyone that is putting out slimy ads.”
“As a Republican Party, we will not tolerate these kind of acts,” the Sedgwick County GOP’s statement said. “We are calling for a resignation of Michael Capps from public office. Our leaders need to lead by example.”
Home and business telephone listings for Capps on the Legislature’s website were not in service, and he did not immediately respond to email messages seeking comment. But he told the Eagle that he didn’t know the origin of the attack ad and couldn’t explain why the address for the firm paying for it and his company matched.
The 58-second ad on Facebook and YouTube says it was paid for by Protect Wichita’s Girls, a limited-liability corporation in New Mexico, which didn’t require it to reveal the name of its owners.
The website domain name of www.protectwichitagirls.com initially was owned by Krivacy, a Wyoming limited-liability corporation owned by Capps, before being transferred this week to a web hosting company that guarantees its customers anonymity.
The transfer came the same day that Whipple filed a slander lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court, alleging a conspiracy between two unnamed Longwell supporters and the ad’s videographer — who shares an office with Capps.
The ad had an actress repeating quotations from a 2017 story in The Kansas City Star and the Wichita Eagle in which college-age female legislative interns complained sexual harassment at the Statehouse. However, Whipple was not the subject of the allegation, which involved unnamed Republican lawmakers.
Local Republicans appointed Capps in July 2018 to fill a vacant House seat. Weeks later, the allegations about his conduct with the two boys in foster care in 2017 surfaced. A state report in January 2018 “affirmed” a finding of emotional abuse but was later overturned. Capps said he cleared his name in an appeal, but the state said the finding was overturned on technical grounds.
The House speaker called on Capps to resign, and the state GOP severed its ties to him. However, he won his seat in November 2018 with 54 percent of the vote.