KS-02: While Kansas Republican Steve Watkins has often talked about his role in starting and building the defense contractor VIAP Inc., a new Kansas City Star report reveals that the House candidate did neither of those things.
VIAP, which is a subsidiary of the global company Versar Inc., existed for years before Watkins was hired by them as a consultant, and former Versar executives say Watkins had little to do with its success. Versar's former president and CEO even told the paper that Watkins was "nobody that I’ve heard of," while most former board members reached by McClatchy also said they had no memory of him. One of Versar's co-founders, who also said he didn't remember Watkins, also noted that VIAP wasn't even built, it was "spun off from the parent company"
Over the summer, Watkins had tweeted that he'd "owned an engineering and securities company," and "grew that outfit from three people to 450 people. There were times when I did not take pay to make sure my employees could make ends meet," and his campaign told the Star at the time he was talking about VIAP. Watkins had said similar things on the campaign trail as well, bragging he knew "what it’s like to have to sweat it and work to make payroll, to not take any salary so you can make ends meet." However, Watkins finally acknowledged to the paper last week that he "didn’t own it, no ... when I say I helped start and grow, it was operational."
This isn't the first story to suggest that Watkins, who faces a tough fight against Democrat Paul Davis, is far from an ideal nominee for Team Red. Last week, the Lawrence Journal-World reported that Watkins hasn't run any TV ads since he won the early August primary, and he also hasn't reserved any TV time in the Topeka area. However, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund has been airing plenty of attack ads to try and weaken Davis, and a recent Siena poll showed Davis ahead just 45-44.