TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas physician trying to oust three-term U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in the Republican primary said Monday that he's the target of a "Washington hit job" that led to news reports about him posting graphic images of gunshot victims on Facebook.
Dr. Milton Wolf, a Leawood radiologist who has backing from tea party-aligned groups, has apologized for posting X-ray photos of fatal gunshot wounds and medical injuries on his personal Facebook page several years ago. He acknowledged that the postings were insensitive and inappropriate but added that he removed them shortly after they appeared.
Wolf blamed Roberts and the senator's re-election campaign for the first story about the postings in The Topeka Capital-Journal, suggesting that Roberts' team was trying to deflect attention away from stories published this month dealing with questions about whether Roberts can truly claim to be a Kansas resident.
"He's in a nose dive. He panicked, and yes, he did his entire opposition research dump to try to stop his own free fall," Wolf said during a Monday evening interview with The Associated Press. "If he thinks he can intimidate me, he's wrong."
Wolf said later: "It's a Washington hit job. This is exactly what Washington career politicians are about, that if anybody dares to stand up and say they want to serve their country, this Washington ruling class will try to personally destroy you."
The Capital-Journal first reported Sunday about Wolf's posting of the images and his participation in online commentary that included macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage. The images came from hospitals in the Kansas City area on both sides of the state line.
Asked to respond to Wolf's allegations that Roberts is engaging in character assassination, Roberts executive campaign manager Leroy Towns said, "The original story about his Facebook posts and the alarming things he said speaks for itself."
Following the newspaper's story, medical professionals called the posting of the images irresponsible.
"I own my mistakes," Wolf said. "I take full responsibility, and I apologize."
Capital-Journal Editor Tomari Quinn said the newspaper had been working on the story for some time but doesn't disclose its sources. As for its report, she said, "We do stand by it."
The state's primary is Aug. 5. Roberts' re-election campaign began this year with $2.24 million in cash on hand, compared to about $179,000 for Wolf.
But earlier this month, Roberts was on the defensive over a New York Times story that suggested the senator was "desperate" to re-establish ties with his home state.
Roberts owns a home in suburban Alexandria, Va. He also owns a duplex unit in Dodge City, Kan., but it has a tenant. He's registered to vote at another nearby Dodge City address, a home belonging to a couple who are longtime friends and supporters, where he rents a room and a bathroom for $300 a month.
"Our country's in trouble, and it's in trouble precisely because of these Washington career politicians who have run our country in the ground and think we should continue to send them back to Washington decade after decade, even if they don't bother to live in the state they want to represent," Wolf said.
He said Roberts is "in an absolute tailspin" and "is trying desperately to cling onto power."
But Towns said: "What happened to Milton Wolf was done by Milton Wolf."
Associated Press writer Charles Babington reported from Washington.
Roberts re-election campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com/
Wolf campaign: http://www.miltonwolf.com/
Follow John Hanna on Twitter at www.twitter.com/apjdhanna .