Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose deceptive public statements about voter fraud appear to be part of a strategy to advance his political career, is finding that deception doesn’t work so well when it’s directed at federal judges.
The Wichita Eagle reports that Kobach, running for governor of Kansas as he serves as vice chairman of President Trump’s “election integrity” commission, has paid a $1,000 fine for misleading a federal magistrate judge. The judge ruled in April that Kobach made “patently misleading representations” to the court about a document he carried into a meeting with Trump late last year. The fine was upheld on Wednesday by a federal district judge.
The fine grows out of a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge proof-of-citizenship requirements Kansas has imposed on residents seeking to register to vote. As part of the case, the ACLU sought to review a binder that Kobach was photographed carrying into a meeting with Trump shortly after last November’s election.
Kobach initially denied that the binder contained information relevant to the suit, but after reviewing it in private U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara ruled otherwise. O’Hara also rebuked Kobach, warning that “when any lawyer takes an unsupportable position in a simple matter such as this, it hurts his or her credibility when the court considers arguments on much more complex and nuanced matters.”
Upholding O’Hara’s ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Court Julie Robinson wrote that Kobach’s misleading statements about the photographed document are not the only “statements made or positions taken by Secretary Kobach that have called his credibility into question.” Robinson cited other misleading statements Kobach made to the court in the ACLU case.
The Kansas agency responsible for enforcing ethical standards for state lawyers disclosed last week it will investigate Kobach, in part because he misled the court.
As vice chairman of the election integrity commission led by Vice President Mike Pence, Kobach has been rebuffed by his election administrator counterparts in 45 states over the commission’s attempt to obtain a wide range of personal information about registered voters. Most states have refused to provide at least part of the data sought by the commission, citing privacy concerns, and Common Cause is among several groups that have filed lawsuits challenging the commission’s request.
The commission apparently hopes to build a national voter database and use it to support Kobach’s and the president’s claims – debunked in numerous earlier studies - that voter fraud is widespread across the U.S. A federal judge in Washington on Monday declined to step in and stop the data collection and Kobach has sent out a new, somewhat scaled-back request to the states.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections