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Noonletter, Oct. 3, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

We hardly knew ye

Well, we do know Steve Watkins is a veteran.

But much of the rest of the biography he’s touted in his race for Congress has come under question.

Last week, The Kansas City Star tore down his claims of building a tiny business into something massive.

Now the Associated Press reports that the Republican nominee for the seat in the eastern Kansas district isn’t the philanthropic adventurer he’s claimed to be.

His website has now removed a testimonial to his “heroic leadership” in the aftermath of a Nepalese earthquake. His comrades told the AP that Watkins and others attempting to climb Mount Everest didn’t help out in the crisis because they couldn’t -- they were on the side of the mountain.

Watkins had talked about being the first person to attempt to summit Everest and compete in the Iditarod dog sled race across Alaska. Folks competing alongside him in that race, at the rear of the pack, told AP reporters he was more consumed in making phone calls about speaking engagements than caring for his dogs.

The AP reporting also suggested that until Watkins ran for Congress, he’d not lived in Kansas since high school.

Here’s a biographical spot from the Watkins campaign:

H.R., you had one job

A physician who claimed he was fired after questioning emergency room staffing levels at Overland Park Regional Medical Center sued and saw a Jackson County jury award him nearly $29 million this week.

Raymond Brovont alleged he was fired after he raised concerns that a single physician was used at night to cover both the regular and pediatric emergency departments at the hospital, Dan Margolies reports. Brovont contended that left the hospital with dangerously little manpower.

The jury award included $20 million in punitive damages.

A spokeswoman for EmCare says the company plans to appeal.

At least NAFTA was easy to pronounce

The tentative new  United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement -- USMCA just rolls off the tongue -- is getting high marks from farm states partly because of how it makes the folks up north take in more American dairy products.

The replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, still needs approval from Congress. Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran has hailed the agreement even as he’s pleaded with the Trump administration to end tariff fights with China that have hurt crop prices.

Raj Bhala, University of Kansas law professor versed in international trade issues, told Stephen Koranda that USMCA preserves things important to many farmers, such as zero tariffs on most agricultural products.

“So there’s that stability and certainty and predictability,” he said, “that they will continue to enjoy duty-free access.”

Not their guy anymore

The Kansas Democratic Party said on Tuesday that it has pulled its support from Chris Haulmark’s candidacy for an Olathe-based Kansas House seat in the wake of allegations that he emotionally abused women, including threatening them with violence.

In a joint statement, Kansas House Democrats and the state party said reports detailed in a Star story were “disturbing” and disqualify him for office.

Haulmark would be the first deaf person elected to a state legislature. The Democrat was running for a seat that Republicans routinely win.

On Facebook, Haulmark admits to mistakes he’s made in relationships, but he accuses his Republican opponent of using dirty tactics.

Under Kansas law, Haulmark’s name will remain on the ballot even if he wants to withdraw his candidacy.

More bad TV

Laura Kelly, the Democratic state senator and nominee for governor, is putting out warm fuzzies in her latest commercial. It features two fellow state senators, a Democrat and a moderate Republican, saying she’s the kind of politician that plays well with others. They also argue Republican Kris Kobach does not, that his election would continue the confrontation of the Sam Brownback days.

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. 

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