Kris Kobach is running for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor of Kansas. If he wins the party’s nomination, the deeply red state that gave the US Sam Brownback could very well elect him. You might know the name, but you probably wouldn’t recognize Kobach, who is currently the state’s secretary of state, if you stood next to him waiting to use a Porta Potty at the Kansas State Fair. Kobach is, despite massive evidence to the contrary, single-minded in claiming widespread voter fraud. He is, as Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce recently characterized him, “the nation’s most prominent vote-suppressor.” He is also one of the nation’s chief anti-immigration warriors, supporting an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and often tying refugees to terrorism.
In a recent court ruling, Kobach was handed a major setback by Federal Judge Julie Robinson, who ruled that a 2011 law — both written by and defended in court by Kobach — requiring Kansans to show proof of citizenship before they could vote, was clearly unconstitutional.
If you’re not a Kansan, Kobach is probably best known as the man who was vice chairman of President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission. In August of last year, The Kansas City Star’s Bryan Lowry reported that Kobach was brought on as a regular paid columnist for Breitbart News, the conservative news site that has been a safe haven for white nationalists.
Kobach, who previously hosted a talk radio show in Kansas City, said, “I think Breitbart.com appeals to anyone who is Republican or conservative in any way.” He added, “It appeals to a broad spectrum of conservative readers.”
Now he is a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor, and will face off against a number of candidates including current Gov. Jeff Colyer, who took over the spot when Sam Brownback resigned to serve as United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. By a 50-49 vote, with vice president Mike Pence breaking the tie, Brownback was confirmed by the Senate and now heads the Office of International Religious Freedom in the US Department of State.
In early June, at a parade in Shawnee, Kansas, Kobach rode in a vehicle outfitted with what looked like a machine gun. Despite criticism and apologies from the city, Kobach tweeted photos, saying, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
At a campaign rally in Lenexa, Kansas, Ted Nugent, the man who used to be a rock musician and who has since descended into conspiracy and gun-rights über alles territory, endorsed Kobach. “He is the most well-known spokesman for gun rights and the Second Amendment in the United States,” Kobach said in an interview. “He brings excitement to the campaign. It will be fun.”
Kobach has played the “widespread voter fraud” card for years. As Zachery Mueller pointed out in a lengthy and well-documented report, “In May 2009, Kris Kobach launched his bid for Kansas Secretary of State with a campaign focused on insistent, but unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud.”
Kobach’s campaign revolved around allegations of pervasive voter impersonation, and double and non-citizen voting. Mueller’s report, produced by “Kobach Is Wrong For Kansas,” noted that “Bloomberg News found that between 1997 and 2010, Kansas had only 221 instances of alleged voter fraud, with only a few of these allegations showing any evidence of fraud actually being committed. They went on to state that UFO sightings were more common than voter fraud.”
Kobach’s Courtroom Shenanigans Upbraided by Judge
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Judge Robinson said, “This trial was [Kobach’s] opportunity to produce credible evidence of that [voter fraud] iceberg, but he failed to do so.” She added that “the court will not rely on extrapolated numbers from tiny sample sizes and otherwise flawed data.”
Over the course of the proceedings, Judge Robinson pointed out Kobach’s oft-repeated and “flagrant violations” of court procedures. Judge Robinson then sanctioned Kobach telling him he “must take six hours of continuing law education in addition to any hours required for his law license,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Evidence from numerous credible sources shows that claims of rampant voter fraud are bogus. After the 2016 election, The New York Times made “inquiries to all 50 states (noting that everyone but Kansas responded)” and found that “no states reported indications of widespread fraud.”
The Brennan Center for Justice also looked into the issue and concluded “that voter fraud is sufficiently rare that it simply could not and does not happen at the rate even approaching that which would be required to ‘rig’ an election.”
After reports that Kobach’s office delayed compliance with the judge’s ruling, his office relented and told election officials to enforce it.
CBS News recently reported that Kobach “unsuccessfully sought a governor’s pardon for a corporate campaign donor’s vice president whose crime, police said, involved threatening a cab driver by putting a gun to his head.” Kobach evidently “approached then-GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s chief counsel about clemency for Kansas City-area resident Ryan Bader [vice president and treasurer of TriStar Arms, his family’s Kansas City, Missouri, firearms importing and wholesaling business and a campaign donor to Kobach’s campaigns] in August 2017, state records obtained by The Associated Press show.”
Kobach Is Wrong For Kansas is publishing a series of highly documented reports dealing with Kobach’s career. “Kobach is WRONG for Kansas PAC is a statewide research-based information campaign to expose and oppose Kris Kobach’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign,” is the website’s stated mission. The PAC, which doesn’t endorse any candidate, states: “From his attacks on democracy and religious freedom to his connections to white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, and racist xenophobes, Kobach’s political history must be exposed.”