TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Republicans on Friday pushed a new GOP state lawmaker to resign and end his campaign to keep his seat over a woman's allegations that he allowed two of her foster children to sit in his lap and rub his chest.
State Rep. Michael Capps of Wichita said the state later reversed its initial finding of abuse. He did not return telephone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment but told other news organizations in a statement that the abuse allegation was "categorically false and untrue."
The state Department for Children and Families confirmed it had found "emotional abuse" by Capps, without providing further details, but its finding was overturned on a "technical error." The Kansas Republican Party severed its ties with him Friday, declaring it did not support his election after reviewing information about the allegation from him and other, unspecified sources.
The state GOP said the allegation, first reported by KAKE-TV , was "beyond troubling" and that the party was compelled to take "pre-emptive action" because Capps wouldn't withdraw as a candidate. The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, influential among Republicans, also rescinded an endorsement of Capps.
House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., an Olathe Republican, called on Capps to resign, saying it would be "entirely inappropriate" for him to serve. Local Republicans appointed Capps in July to fill a vacancy in the Wichita-area district until January after he already had filed to run for the seat in this year's elections.
"The allegations in this matter are serious ones," Ryckman said in a statement. "Public trust matters far more than political gain."
Capps was the only GOP candidate in the state's Aug. 7 primary. If he remains on the ballot as the Republican nominee, he will face Democrat Monica Marks, of Wichita, in the Nov. 6 general election.
"I fought back and cleared my name," he told KAKE-TV. "I fought back and was able to show the system had made a mistake."
But DCF said the abuse finding was reversed "due to a technical error."
"The reversal did not address the underlying facts of the finding," the statement said.
KAKE reported Capps had been a court-appointed volunteer to provide support to children placed in foster care. The station said that after two young boys were removed from a foster home last year, the foster mother accused Capps of abusing them.
The woman alleged that Capps hugged and kissed the boys and allowed them to sit on his lap and rub his chest. He told KAKE he was affectionate, but that he didn't overstep any boundaries.
While DCF initially affirmed emotional abuse, Capps told KAKE that the finding was overturned when he appealed to the agency. He said that reversal was upheld a second time after another review by an outside state administrative hearings office.
DCF's version of events is different. The department said Capps appealed to the administrative hearings office and it reversed the abuse finding. AP could not independently verify details of the case.
KAKE reported that Capps resigned as a volunteer and the volunteer group decertified him. But no criminal charges were filed and DCF dismissed the case, the station said.