Trump loyalist Kris Kobach puts the GOP at risk in Kansas with his history of swindling, scandals, lies, and ties to white nationalists.
There's a chance the next governor of solidly Republican Kansas might not be a Republican, now that scandal-plagued Kris Kobach has secured the party's nomination. The influential Cook Political Report changed their rating of the race to "toss up" after Kobach was named the winner, noting even most GOP operatives see him as "a flawed nominee."
Kobach's laundry list of political baggage includes his actively supporting voter suppression efforts, hiring white nationalists, swindling small towns out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, embracing anti-immigrant hate groups, and being found in contempt of court.
In other words, he seems like exactly the type of Republican candidate Trump would jump at the chance to endorse, which Trump did the day after Kobach's Republican primary opponent conceded a close race.
Kobach may be best known for his role as Trump's voter suppression czar. After being appoint to the Trump administration's "election integrity" commission, Kobach led the effort to "prove" millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, a ludicrous claim made by Trump with nothing to support it.
Shortly after the commission disbanded, Kobach was embroiled in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU that claimed a Kansas law — authored by Kobach — ran afoul of the federal National Voter Registration Act.
Kobach, serving as Kansas' Secretary of State, decided to represent the state at the trial. At the beginning of the trial, in 2016, Kobach was fined by the judge for "deceptive conduct and lack of candor" after he lied in court about the existence of certain documents.
Throughout the trial, Kobach was repeatedly reprimanded by the Republican-appointed judge for his complete lack of courtroom knowledge.
After losing the case, Kobach was held in contempt of court for refusing to abide by the judge's decision. The judge slammed Kobach's "history of noncompliance and disrespect for the court’s decisions."
Before leading voter suppression efforts for Trump, Kobach spent years spearheading racist anti-immigration policies throughout the country. He was the man behind Arizona's unconstitutional SB 1070, also known as the "show me your papers law," which sought to require state and local law enforcement officers to demand papers from anyone they suspected may be undocumented.
After nationwide outcry, including boycotts of the state of Arizona, most of the law was struck down in a series of court settlements. Arizona was forced to pay more than $1 million in legal fees to some plaintiffs.
Arizona wasn't the only place Kobach peddled legally dubious anti-immigration policies. In a scheme lasting 13 years, Kobach cost small towns millions of dollars.
A joint investigation by ProPublica and the Kansas City Star found Kobach would hire himself out as a consultant, present towns with anti-immigration policies, and watch the the town adopt them. When the towns would inevitably face a lawsuit, Kobach would show up again, charging them enormous fees to defend the policies, which would often be overturned.
Over the course of his scheme, Kobach personally pocketed more than $800,000, while at least one town was forced to file for bankruptcy.
During his swindling days, Kobach also had ties with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies FAIR as hate group with ties to white supremacist groups.
Kobach has his own deep ties to white supremacists apart from FAIR.
In 2015, Kobach spoke at a conference organized by a different SPLC-identified hate group, the Social Contract Press, which regularly publishes articles by white nationalists.
His current campaign for governor employed three individuals identified by the Topeka Capitol Journal as white nationalists.
Trump won Kansas in 2016 by more than 20 points, and his approval rating in the state hovers near 70 percent.
But with Kobach's history of failures, swindling, and ties to far-right white supremacists, he could very well lose a race that should be a slam dunk.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.