In his race to be Kansas’ next governor, Kris Kobach represents the ugliest part of today’s Republican Party. He also sounds a lot like the president... Kris Kobach, the state’s secretary of state — and quite possibly the most pernicious public official in America... This distinction is not conferred lightly. Mr. Kobach has labored for it long and hard, notably in the areas of voter suppression and nativism. He is best known for having been the vice chairman of President Trump’s ugly voter fraud commission, spawned in 2017 to root out the millions of illegal voters who Mr. Trump’s ego pathetically, and falsely, claimed had cost him the popular vote in 2016. The commission was dissolved this January, having failed to find any evidence of widespread fraud, but having succeeded in raising Mr. Kobach’s national profile and cementing his reputation as a master purveyor of Trumpism.Mr. Kobach on Wednesday declared victory at a noon news conference, acknowledging that only 191 votes separated him from Mr. Colyer and that the election result may change as provisional and other ballots are counted. Awkwardly, as the state’s top election official, Mr. Kobach would be the person charged with overseeing any recount of votes. Unless he recused himself, which he has said he would not.Mr. Kobach is running for governor on a promise to “Make Kansas Great Again.” (#MKGA!).. Starting with a failed run for Congress in 2004, Mr. Kobach has regularly sounded the alarm that illegal immigration and widespread voter fraud are destroying this nation. Indeed, he has suggested that fraud played a role in his congressional defeat.A former constitutional law professor with degrees from Yale, Harvard and Oxford, Mr. Kobach’s specialty is concocting creative legal arguments to achieve controversial political ends — such as, say, forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall. (His plan: use a provision in the Patriot Act to track and tax the remittances that undocumented immigrants send home to family members.)
He was the brains behind the self-deportation proposal for which Mitt Romney was widely mocked in his 2012 presidential run.
.. As an adviser to immigration hard-liners in Arizona — including the felonious-until-pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio — he helped write the state law that, among other measures, tasked the local police with verifying the citizenship of anyone they had “reasonable suspicion” to believe was undocumented.
.. ProPublica and The Kansas City Star recently detailed Mr. Kobach’s 13-year history of pitching his consulting services to small towns, helping them enact such ordinances. This has been a profitable gig for Mr. Kobach, but not so much for the towns in question, some of which wound up drowning in legal fees after trying to defend measures that ultimately proved unenforceable.
.. His crowning achievement as secretary of state was a law passed in 2011 requiring people to prove their citizenship before registering to vote. Or, rather, it was his crowning achievement until a federal judge this year struck down the law as unconstitutional.
.. he has a flair for the dramatic and isn’t overly concerned with facts.
.. His speeches contain plenty of red meat, such as comparing Planned Parenthood to the Third Reich’s Josef Mengele.
.. Until early 2017, Mr. Kobach spent several years hosting a local call-in show, on which he held forth on such terrors as the “illegal alien crime wave” that he warned was decimating America.
.. He also got a kick out of indulging the dark fantasies of listeners, such as the 2014 caller fearful that the immigration policies of then-President Barack Obama would lead to the “ethnic cleansing” of whites.
.. Then there was the 2015 caller anxious about whether Mr. Obama might one day decree that “any black person accused of a crime, charged with a crime, is not going to be prosecuted.”
“Well, it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Mr. Kobach soothed. “So I guess it’s not a huge jump.”
.. in Mr. Kobach, Mr. Trump clearly sees a kindred spirit.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kan., referred repeatedly to Kobach as acting “disingenuously.”
.. “The term ‘register’ is not ambiguous, nor should there have been any question that these voters were to be treated just like any other registered voter,” Robinson said in her order.
Instead of a fine in the contempt matter, Robinson ordered Kobach to pay attorneys fees for the plaintiffs in the case.
.. “The Court is troubled by Defendant’s failure to take responsibility for violating this Court’s orders, and for failing to ensure compliance over an issue that he explicitly represented to the Court had been accomplished,” Robinson wrote.
.. In 2016, Robinson ordered Kobach to fully register thousands of Kansas voters who had registered at the DMV but had failed to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, as required by a Kansas law that Kobach crafted.
Robinson had earlier scolded Kobach for initially informing the voters covered by her order that they were registered only for the 2016 election and for failing to ensure that they receive the same postcard notifications about their registration as other voters.
.. Robinson told Kobach during a 2016 telephone conference that she would hold him responsible for directing counties to send out these postcards. He promised to do his best and narrowly dodged a contempt hearing in 2016 because of this agreement.
.. Kobach has advised President Donald Trump on potential changes to federal voting laws. He also has the support of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who campaigned for Kobach late last year…
Kobach was previously fined $1,000 by the court last year after Robinson had concluded he had tried to mislead the court about documents related to a 2016 meeting with Trump.
.. “Defendant has a history of noncompliance with the preliminary injunction order. He not only willfully failed to comply with the preliminary injunction for five months, but then only partially complied in October 2016 upon the threat of contempt,” Robinson wrote.
.. “I believe that Kobach did what he could do within the office,” Esau said. “I think the judge expected him to do things that were beyond what the office normally does.”
The right-wing candidate for Kansas governor has degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Yale. But to watch him war with figments of his imagination — a fictional army of fraudulent voters — makes one think of that old ad campaign: A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
.. Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, produced no credible support for his theory that large numbers of noncitizens are illegally voting in American elections. Thus, the Kobach-inspired law requiring Kansas voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship is unconstitutional because it imposes the burden without a reasonable justification.
.. “At most, 67 noncitizens registered or attempted to register in Kansas over the last 19 years,” the judge found. Of those, only 39, at most, actually ended up on voter rolls, put there largely by clerical mistakes, not fraud.
.. “Some applicants told the . . . clerk that they were not citizens, yet the clerk completed a voter registration application” anyway.
.. “Given the almost 2 million individuals on the Kansas voter rolls, some administrative anomalies are expected,”
.. For that matter, human errors have recorded 400 Kansas voters as having birth dates subsequent to their dates of registration.
.. Kobach, as much as any individual, is the author of right-wing mania over mass voter fraud.
.. Ducking and dodging so vigorously that the judge, a Republican appointee, held him in contempt of court, Kobach tried to argue that the tiny number of mistaken registrations actually proves the existence of a vast horde.
.. He “insists that these numbers are just ‘the tip of the iceberg.
.. Kobach may be a victim of his own success — or a textbook example of the Peter Principle
.. Winning the post of secretary of state in 2010 placed him in charge of Kansas elections, giving him the tools he needed to prove the righteousness of his quest.
.. Like Joseph McCarthy waving his phony list of communists, Kobach reached a point where he had to put up or shut up.
.. “Defendant already has prosecutorial authority over Kansas election crimes. Yet, since obtaining this authority . . . Defendant has filed zero criminal complaints against noncitizens for registering to vote.”
.. Robinson required Kobach to complete a refresher course in trial procedure before he can renew his law license — quite a smackdown for a former law professor.