Kansas Democrat Paul Davis, who is challenging Gov. Sam Brownback in the general election this fall, is doing damage control after a local newspaper published a story that he was found in the back room of a strip club with a scantily clad woman when the club was raided in 1998.
"When I was 26 years old, I was taken to a club by my boss - the club owner was one of our legal clients. While we were in the building, the police showed up," Davis said in a statement, according to the Wichita Eagle. "I was never accused of having done anything wrong, but rather I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
On Saturday, the Coffeyville Journal wrote that Davis - who was unmarried at the time of the raid - was in the back room of a club called Secrets with a woman wearing only a G-string when police raided the club looking for methamphetamine. He told the officer he was the attorney for the club's owner, did not have drugs on him, and was not arrested, the paper reported.
Davis' campaign also released a statement from Harry Smith, the police officer who conducted the raid and is now the police chief in Independence, Kansas. Smith said Davis was cooperative and one of "20 or more people present in the club when the raid was conducted."
"Paul was not involved in our investigation that night, therefore he was simply questioned briefly and released," according to the Eagle.
But Kansas Republicans are trying to suggest the incident makes Davis unfit for office. Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, told the Eagle in a statement that "news of this behavior casts serious questions on Davis' judgment and fitness for public office."
The Republican Governor's Association has similarly said that the incident shows Davis "lacks the proper judgment and character" to be the state's next governor.
But Davis' campaign has suggested that the strip club incident was brought to light by allies of Brownback, who is trailing his Democratic opponent in several recent polls of the race.
"I'm not at all surprised Sam Brownback and his allies are digging up all they can to distract Kansans from the fact they remain down in the polls," Davis said in his statement. "Kansans deserve better than a desperate smear campaign."