Republican Senate candidate Milton Wolf, who is hoping to unseat incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in primary this year, came under fire Sunday for have made jokes online about gory X-ray images of gunshot victims and other patients he posted on his Facebook page.
Wolf, a radiologist who has criticized Roberts for being out-of-touch with the state, had been making some headway against the three-term incumbent. But his campaign found itself in the midst of an uproar after the Topeka Capital-Journal posted a video interview with Wolf over his decision earlier in his career to engage in a running commentary about images of his own patients as well as those of other victims. In one exchange he joked that he wanted to know where to buy a gun that so effectively blew a person's head off; in another he wrote it didn't matter how a victim's body was positioned because "it's not like the patient's going to complain."
"Several years ago I made some comments about these images that were insensitive to the seriousness of what the images revealed. Soon thereafter, I removed those images and comments, again several years ago," Wolf said in a statement. "For them to be published in a much more public context now, by a political adversary who would rather declare war on doctors than answer serious questions that Kansans have, is truly sad. However, my mistakes are my own and I take full responsibility for them."
In the interview with the Capital-Journal, Wolf offered a few different explanations for posting the graphic images, saying at one point, "It is an educational thing for people to see these consequences," and at another, "It is no joke taking care of patients." While he initially said the images would all have been of his own patients, Wolf referred to one gunshot wound victim by remarking, "This is not about trying to violate anybody’s rights or privacy. This is not even a patient of mine."
National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brad Dayspring tweeted Sunday, "When a candidate posts & mocks pictures of the dead on Facebook, that's an issue - of character, judgement [sic], & stability."
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which has backed Wolf in his bid to oust Roberts, had tweeted earlier, "The NRSC can't compete on the issues so they have to attack the character of conservatives."
When asked about Wolf on Sunday, Roberts' executive campaign manager Leroy Towns wrote in an e-mail, " The story speaks for itself."
Roberts had been caught on the defensive earlier this month, when he confirmed a report by The New York Times that he does not own a home in Kansas, and instead stays with a pair of longtime supporters and donors in a house on a country club golf course in Dodge City.