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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman October 1, 2018

Did Paul Davis vote to allow strip clubs to open nears homes and schools?

A new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC working to protect the GOP Majority in the U.S. House, attacks a Kansas congressional hopeful for an incident at a strip club 20 years ago.

You bet we wanted to see if the facts here stood up to scrutiny.

Democrat Paul Davis is locked in a competitive race with Republican Steve Watkins in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, a seat that includes Topeka, Lawrence and the communities west of Kansas City.

The ad targets Davis for his alleged involvement in a 1998 strip club drug raid, where he was found in a dark room with a nearly naked woman.

"What’s worse than getting caught at a strip club during a drug bust? Ask Paul Davis."

The ad then claims Davis was found in a VIP room with a woman wearing only a G-string. Then it says, "Even worse, after Davis was caught with a stripper, he voted to allow strip clubs to open near our homes, churches, schools and even daycare facilities. Shady Paul Davis can’t be trusted."

Here, we are checking the details surrounding the strip club incident, along with the claim that Davis voted to allow strip clubs to operate near places like schools, homes, churches and daycares.

The strip club incident

The situation involving Davis and a strip club came to light in September 2014 during his bid for governor, which he lost.

According to reports, Davis was getting a lap dance in a back room in the late 1990s when cops raided the club in search of drugs. He was not charged with a crime, but police involved in the raid reported he was found in a "compromising position."

Davis said he "was at the wrong place at the wrong time." Independence Police Chief Harry Smith later corroborated Davis’ account that the candidate was not involved in any wrongdoing, or, to his knowledge, the focus of an investigation. He said Davis was questioned briefly before being released.

Kelsi Browning, a spokeswoman for Davis’ campaign, told PolitiFact that the ad is based on something that happened 20 years ago when Davis was 26. As a new lawyer, she said, Davis went with his boss to meet an "unsavory client" of the law firm.

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So what about this vote?

The ad refers to HB 2107, or the Community Defense Act, which was a 2011 state bill that would have prohibited strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses from being established within 1,000 feet of the property line of an existing one as well as any schools, churches, public parks, residences, libraries or daycare centers.

The bill would have also required semi-nude dancers to remain at least 6 feet away from their customers and for sexually oriented businesses to remain closed from midnight to 6 a.m.

Davis was one of 28 Kansas House members who voted against the bill, which ultimately failed in the Senate.

The Davis campaign says that the legislation was a perennial bill that rarely made it out of committee. When it first came up in 2010, Davis actually voted for the bill before it was struck down in the Senate.

It came up again in the 2011 session, but this time, he voted against it.

Critics of the legislation, which included Davis, argued at the time that regulating these businesses was best left to cities and counties. Some also questioned taking the time to focus on the issue when the state was facing a massive budget deficit.

In a Lawrence Journal-World story around the time of the vote, Davis, who was the House minority leader, was quoted saying that the Legislature was "probably intruding in areas where we don’t need to be. We’ve got a lot more important things that we need to be dealing with here."

Our ruling

The Congressional Leadership Fund ad says that Kansas U.S. House candidate Paul Davis was caught with a stripper during a drug raid and later voted to allow strip clubs to open near homes, churches, schools and daycares.

The ad is piecing together two unrelated issues to draw an unsavory conclusion, while embellishing parts of the story.

Davis did not vote to allow strip clubs to open near schools, churches, daycares and the like. He once voted against a measure that would have banned them from opening near these places. He also once voted for the same proposal.

The ad’s claim that he was found in a strip club during a drug raid is accurate, but any suggestion he was connected to the drug raid is misplaced.

Overall, this claim is partially accurate but takes things out of context. We rate it Half True.

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PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Half True
Says Kansas U.S. House candidate Paul Davis was caught with a stripper during a drug raid and later voted to "allow strip clubs to open near homes, churches, schools and daycare facilities."
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Our Sources

Youtube, CLF ad, Sept. 19, 2018

Politico, Davis addresses strip club incident," Sept. 20, 2014; Accessed Sept. 26, 2018

Fox News, "Kansas House candidate Paul Davis subject of new attack for his 'history with strip clubs,'" Sept. 19, 2018

Associated Press, "GOP targets Kansas Democrat with 1998 strip club charge," Sept. 21, 2018

Kansas State Legislature, "HB2107 Community defense act; sexually oriented businesses regulations," Accessed Sept. 26, 2018

Kansas State Legislature House proceedings 2010, Accessed Sept. 27, 2018

Lawrence-Journal World, "Kansas House panel takes up bill on restrictions for strip clubs and sex shops," Feb. 18, 2011; Accessed Sept. 27, 2018

McClatchy DC, "Republicans threaten Paul Davis with ads about years-old strip club incident," Aug. 10, 2018

Email interview with Kelsi Browning, Davis campaign spokeswoman, Sept. 27, 2018

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Did Paul Davis vote to allow strip clubs to open nears homes and schools?

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