Neil Kitchens, the 2018 Republican candidate for Assembly District 30, entered a not guilty plea in court, Thursday.
Kitchens is facing two counts of voter registration fraud and three counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument.
The maximum penalty is three years and eight months in prison.
The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office says that the charges come from two actions taken by Kitchens in March 2018. They tell KION that around March 8th Kitchens registered to vote using an address in Salinas. While he owns the property, the DA’s office says that Kitchens does not live there. Instead, he rents out the property. Salinas is in the AD 30 district boundaries, but Prunedale, where the DA’s office accuses him of actually living, is not. The second alleged action is from around March 20. The DA’s office says he filed to run for AD 30 using the Salinas address.
The findings came through an investigation by the California Secretary of State’s Office.
There was also an FPPC investigation into Kitchens’ campaign before the 2018 election.
Political consultant Christian Schneider accused Kitchens of the same allegations as the DA’s office charges.
“Mr. Kitchens did not live at the address or re-registered at a different address than he was claiming even on his own website, and he was claiming he lived in Prunedale… But when you looked at his voter registration, he was claiming he lived in Salinas,” Schneider, who filed the complaint to the FPPC, said.
Schneider’s company, Pivotal Campaign Services, was hired to work for Bill Lipe, who lost to Kitchens in the primary. Schneider says Kitchens’ alleged actions cheated voters.
“He disenfranchised about 20 thousand Republican voters. They thought they had a legitimate candidate in the primary, and they gave him their vote, and they have him their trust. And the truth is he could never legally assume the seat.”
Kitchens ended up losing to Robert Rivas in the general election.
He is also still seeking public office. A campaign committee was recently filed to support a Kitchens bid for State Senate District 17 in 2020 – a position currently held by Bill Monning.
KION is still working to see if the charges in court Thursday are related to findings by the FPPC.
KION reached out multiple times to Kitchens for comment. He has not responded. He’s due back in court on July 16th.
CORRECTION: A previous update wrote that the voter registration charge surrouded Kitchens and “another unnamed individual.” The DA’s office says that Kitchens in the only person involved.