KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A New York Times report published Friday afternoon claims Kansas' three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts no longer owns a home in the Sunflower State, drawing a sharp response from Roberts' campaign manager, and highlighting what could be a nagging concern for the senator's reelection bid.
"I have never seen a story that was as bad as this one is," Roberts Executive Campaign Manager Leroy Towns told 41 Action News on Friday.
In the Times piece by national political correspondent Jonathan Martin, Roberts said the Dodge City, Kan., home where he is registered to vote is owned by friends and donors and that the Senator pays $300 per month in rent to stay there, which he has done only "a few times" – according to unnamed staff members quoted in the report. Roberts also maintains a home in Alexandria, Va., a D.C. suburb.
"He stays there when he's in Dodge City," Leroy Towns said. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. That's a home like anybody else's home."
Towns said Roberts also owns a home in Dodge City, but that house has been occupied by renters for several years.
Questions over residency aside, the report underscores a line of attack already being used against Senator Roberts by his Republican primary opponent Dr. Milton Wolf: that the senator has become a creature of Washington, a term now badly tinged as Congress suffers through its lowest approval ratings in history and Tea Party activists have fueled ousters of several Washington fixtures, including Senator Richard Luger of Indiana.
The Roberts campaign quickly pushed back against that notion, attacking the story's reporting and the reporter who produced it.
"The assertion that Senator Roberts is re-establishing ties to Kansas is a flat lie," Towns told 41 Action News. "The story was written by an East Coast journalist who knows nothing about Kansas.''