The office of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has spoken out against what it calls a “hit piece” published by the New York Times.
The article, which also ran in Sunday’s edition of The Mercury, said Roberts was “desperate to re-establish ties to Kansas” and growing more conservative as he faced an upcoming Republican primary challenge from Milton Wolf, a candidate with backing from Tea Party activists.
Sarah Little, communications director for Roberts, said the New York Times article is slanted and far from the truth.
“Fortunately, this story is so far from reality that Kansans won’t believe it,” she said. “They know how long and hard Pat has worked for the state. They know it is his home. They see him there regularly. When the story was written, he was in Salina. When he read the story today, he was in Wichita.”
The article attributed Roberts as saying that “everything’s changed” about politics from when he arrived in Washington in 1967 as a staff member, later being elected in 1980.
The article said finding a new house and school for the children in the capital area was important at that time, but now voters are seeking Congress members who are more connected to the home state.
“The new political reality helps explain his extraordinary efforts to establish voting residency and be seen back in the state - in the last year, he has visited 72 of the state’s 105 counties, several of them more than once,” the article said.
Among the points of contention, Little said, is the article saying that Roberts acknowledged he didn’t have a home of his own in Kansas.
Little said Roberts told New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin “just the opposite, both verbally and in writing.”
“Senator Roberts long has owned a home in Dodge City,” she said. “It currently has a tenant; he also pays rent at a residence where he stays when he is in Dodge City. He pays Kansas state tax and property tax. His three children attended college in Kansas. He is a Kansan. He lives in Dodge City by every measure of residency.”
According to the article, the house on a country club golf course in Dodge City that he lists on his driver’s license and as his voting address belongs to C. Duane and Phyllis Ross, two longtime supporters and donors.
The article said Roberts moved his address from a rental property that he leases to tenants, and he began paying the Rosses $300 a month to allow him to stay overnight with them occasionally.
Little said the reporter had a clear agenda against Roberts.
“Martin did not let facts stand in the way of his agenda,” she said. “The reporter found two people who said they did not know Senator Roberts. Martin did not bother to find thousands of others who know the Senator well.”