Kris Kobach

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Kris Kobach
Kris Kobach Kansas, Secretary of State (13419571233) (cropped).jpg
31st Secretary of State of Kansas
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Governor Sam Brownback
Preceded by Chris Biggs
Chair of the Kansas Republican Party
In office
January 2007 – January 2009
Preceded by Tim Shallenburger
Succeeded by Amanda Adkins
Personal details
Born Kris William Kobach
(1966-03-26) March 26, 1966 (age 51)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Heather Mannschreck
Children 5
Education Harvard University (BA)
Brasenose College, Oxford (MA, PhD)
Yale University (JD)

Kris William Kobach (born March 26, 1966) is the Secretary of State of Kansas, serving since 2011.[1] A former chairman of Kansas Republican Party and city councilman in Overland Park, Kansas, he ran unsuccessfully for Kansas's 3rd congressional district in 2004.[2]

Kobach has come to prominence over his hardliner views on immigration, as well as his calls for greater voting restrictions and a Muslim registry.[3][4][5] Kobach regularly makes claims about the extent of voter fraud in the United States that critics argue are unsubstantiated or completely false.[11]

As Secretary of State of Kansas, he has implemented some of the strictest voter ID legislation in the nation and has fought to remove nearly 20,000 properly registered voters from the state's voter rolls.[12] After considerable investigation and prosecution, Kobach secured six convictions for voter fraud; all were cases of double voting.[13][14]

On June 8, 2017, Kobach formally announced his campaign for Kansas governor.[15]

Early life[edit]

Kobach was born in Madison, Wisconsin to Janice Mardell (née Iverson) and William Louis Kobach.[16][17] His great-grandparents were Bohemian and German on his father's side and Norwegian on his mother's side; they came to Wisconsin in the 1890s, where they were mostly farmers.[18][19]

At the age of seven, in 1974, Kobach moved to Kansas with his parents and two sisters, and grew up mostly in Topeka where his father owned Bill Kobach Buick GMC, a car dealership.[20][21]


In 1984, Kobach graduated from Washburn Rural High School in Topeka, Kansas, where he was co-valedictorian with Bill Allen, and class president. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and first in his department.[22] He then received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics at the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

He attended Yale Law School, where he earned a Juris Doctor degree in 1995[1][23] and was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. During this time, he published two books: The Referendum: Direct Democracy in Switzerland (Dartmouth, 1994), and Political Capital: The Motives, Tactics, and Goals of Politicized Businesses in South Africa (University Press of America, 1990).[1]

Legal career[edit]

Early work[edit]

From 1995-96, Kobach clerked for Judge Deanell R. Tacha of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Lawrence, Kansas. He began his professorship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City shortly thereafter. In 2001, President George W. Bush awarded him a White House Fellowship to work for Attorney General John Ashcroft.[24]

At the end of the fellowship, he stayed on as Counsel to the Attorney General. Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he led a team of attorneys and researchers who formulated and established the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. In addition, he took part in work to reshape the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2002. After his government service ended, he returned to UMKC to teach law until running for and winning election to Secretary of State. Upon winning election, Kobach left his position at UMKC.[citation needed]

Immigration and the 2012 Republican Party Platform[edit]

The 2012 Republican Party platform included self-deportation as a response to illegal immigration to the United States. Kobach proposed the measure, stating "If you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today."[25]

Immigration lawsuits[edit]

While running for Congress, Kobach represented out-of-state students (on behalf of Federation for American Immigration Reform) in a lawsuit against the state of Kansas, challenging a state law which grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. The suit was dismissed for lack of legal standing for the plaintiffs.[26] In 2005, Kobach filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, challenging a similar law in California. In September 2008, the California Court of Appeal held that California's law granting in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants was preempted by federal law. (Martinez v. Regents, 166 Cal. App. 4th 1121; 2008). In November 2010, the California Supreme Court unanimously reversed, finding that the law was not preempted by federal law.[27] In 2010, Kobach filed a third lawsuit, this time in Nebraska.[28][29] The case was dismissed in a Nebraska district court in December of that year, for plaintiffs' lack of legal standing.[30]

Kobach has litigated several lawsuits defending cities and states that adopt laws to discourage illegal immigration. He served as lead lawyer defending the city of Valley Park, Missouri in a federal case concerning an ordinance that requires businesses to use a federal worker verification program known as E-Verify in order to maintain a business license. The ordinance was upheld by Missouri federal judge E. Richard Webber on January 31, 2008 (Gray v. Valley Park, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7238).[23][31] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), representing the plaintiff, appealed the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kobach prevailed in the appeal, and the Court allowed the Valley Park ordinance to stand (Gray v. Valley Park, 567 F.3d 976 (8th Cir. 2009)), saying that the ordinance “addresses the employment of illegal aliens, not Hispanics.”[32] Kobach is the lead attorney defending the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, whose ordinances prohibiting employing and renting to illegal immigrants had been struck down by a federal judge in Pennsylvania and again before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.[33]

In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Third Circuit's decision and remitted the case back to the Third Circuit for reconsideration. Sup. Ct. No 10-722. In July 2013, the Third Circuit concluded again that both the employment and housing provisions of the Hazleton ordinances are pre-empted by federal immigration law.[34] He was involved with another lawsuit, involving a Farmers Branch, Texas ordinance that prevents landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.[23] That case is on appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It was originally heard by a three judge panel, then the Fifth Circuit granted rehearing en banc before the entire Court. Case No. 10-10751.

Arizona immigration law[edit]

Kobach played a significant role in the drafting of Arizona SB 1070, a state law that attracted national attention as the country's broadest and strictest—at the state level—illegal immigration measure in a long time, and has assisted in defending the state during the ongoing legal battle over SB 1070's legality.[35][36][37] On February 7, 2008, Federal Judge Neil V. Wake ruled against a lawsuit filed by construction contractors and immigrant organizations who sought to halt a state law that imposes severe penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.[23][31] The plaintiffs appealed the ruling, but Arizona prevailed (with Kobach's assistance) in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Chicanos por la Causa v. Arizona, 558 F.3d 856; 2009). The case was further appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.[38]

On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 5–3 decision to strike down three out of the four challenged provisions of Arizona SB 1070. Three key provisions of the law were struck down on the grounds that they were preempted by federal immigration law, and one provision was upheld. The first provision to be struck down was Section 3 of the bill, which made it a misdemeanor under state law for immigrants to fail to seek or carry federal registration papers. The second struck down provision, Section 5(C), made it a crime in Arizona for immigrants to work or solicit work without employment authorization. The third provision struck down was Section 6, which gave local police the authority to make warrantless arrests of immigrants suspected of being removable. This provision would have provided state officers with greater arrest authority than federal immigration officers, and could be exercised with no instruction from the Federal Government. Section 2(B), one of the most controversial provisions, was upheld, as it was found to be too early to determine how the provision would be applied in practice. 2(B) requires local law enforcement to investigate into the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested when "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the U.S. unlawfully. This was nicknamed by its opponents the "racial profiling" provision.[39]

A recent ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and upheld on appeal, to the effect that Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department have engaged in unconstitutional racial profiling, will limit the effectiveness of the lone provision of SB 1070 that had been upheld as constitutional. Arpaio lost re-election in 2016. The suit cost the county over $56,000,000 in legal fees and costs.[40]

Alabama immigration law[edit]

Kobach was also credited as a primary author of Alabama HB 56, passed in 2010, which has been described as tougher than Arizona's law. Alabama State Senator Scott Beason and Representative Micky Hammon met Kobach at an Eagle Forum of Alabama conference in Birmingham. They worked closely with Kobach to draft the bill so that it would survive judicial review.[41]

Political career[edit]

2004 election[edit]

In the 2004 election cycle, Kobach was the Republican nominee for Congress in the 3rd District, besting primary opponents Adam Taff and Patricia Lightner. He lost to incumbent Dennis Moore, 55%–43%. The victory was the largest of Moore's congressional campaigns. The campaign thrust Kobach onto the national stage, mostly due to his stance on illegal immigration.[31][42][43][44][45] He was given a speaking role on the opening day of the 2004 Republican National Convention and used his slot to call for the U.S. military to be sent to the Mexican border to block illegal immigration.[46]

Chairman of Kansas Republican Party[edit]

On January 28, 2007, Kobach was elected Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, serving until January 2009. Kobach's chairmanship was noted for the broad changes he introduced to election efforts. As Chairman, he raised money for targeted statewide and legislative races and instituted a direct-role policy for the state party in those races. He also pushed the State Committee to create a "loyalty committee", which was charged with sanctioning Republicans who assisted Democratic candidates in contested races.[47] This led to several party officers being stripped of voting rights in party matters as punishment for giving campaign contributions to Democratic Candidates. After Kobach left office, a Federal Elections Commission audit strongly criticized Kobach's financial management of the Kansas Republican Party. The FEC audit found that when Kobach served as chairman, the state party failed to pay state and federal taxes. It was also discovered that illegal contributions were accepted.[48]

In December 2007, Kobach sent an email saying, "[T]o date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years."[49] Caging voters is a tactic frequently employed by Republican organizations to intentionally suppress voter participation in Democratic-leaning geographic areas. The Republican National Committee attempted to use caging to depress turnout in states such as New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. For example, New Jersey RNC officials used caging lists to challenge absentee ballots and absentee ballot requests.[50] The RNC sent out 130,000 letters to voters in majority-black parts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the intent of caging voters in those Democrat strongholds.[51]

Kansas Secretary of State[edit]

On May 26, 2009, Kobach announced his candidacy for Kansas Secretary of State.[52] His opponents in the Republican primary were Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth Ensley and J.R. Claeys, former president of the National Association of Government Contractors. Kobach won the Republican nomination with 50.6% of the vote. Ensley and Claeys finished with 27.0% and 22.4%, respectively.[53]

On November 2, 2010, Kobach defeated incumbent Democrat Chris Biggs, 59%–37%. Kobach was endorsed by former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, as well as former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (his former boss at the Dept. of Justice). Joe Arpaio, Arizona's controversial then-Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, campaigned for Kobach as well.[54]

Though Kobach's campaign treasurer, Tom Arpke, had campaign experience, losing a state senate race in 2008, winning a Salina City Council seat the next year, and a state House seat in 2010,[55] he was found to have under reported contributions by $35,000 and nearly $43,000 in expenditures in Kobach's 2010 campaign, resulting in the maximum $5,000 fine. Kobach complained that he was being discriminated against because former Republican Governor Bill Graves received a much smaller fine for similar violations. Kobach alleged, "The only real distinction I can see is that I'm a conservative and he's a moderate." The chair of the Kansas ethics commission replied the fine was justified because of the campaign's lack of truthfulness, saying, "The commission does not condone lack of candor before the commission."[56] When he got convictions of Kansans for interstate voting irregularities in 2016, however, Kobach said, "The fines are “exactly what I wanted to see in cases like this when I made the case before Kansas Legislature that this authority was needed,” he said. “A $5,000 fine is very significant, and hopefully something no one would want to have to pay.”[57]

In response to a caller on his March 1, 2015 radio show, Kobach agreed that it would not be “a huge jump” for the Obama administration to call for an end to the prosecution of all African-American suspects. After the Kansas Democratic Party decried Kobach's comment as "hate speech" and called it "a new low" and the Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, the only African-American woman in the Kansas Senate, called Kobach’s comments ridiculous, Kobach said that he stands by his statements saying, “My point was to bring attention to the Obama Justice Department’s position that some civil rights statutes can’t be enforced against people of color,” Kobach said. “For example, one of the Obama administration’s first actions it took in 2009 was to drop the slam-dunk charges against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation."[58]

Subsequently, the Kansas Senate Minority Leader, Anthony Hensley, called Kobach "... the most racist politician in America today" and called upon him to resign from office.[59]

In August 2015, a former employee of his office filed suit because she alleged she was terminated by Kobach's second in command, Eric Rucker, as a result of her unwillingness to attend fundamentalist religious services in the state capitol building. Attorney General Derek Schmidt hired outside counsel to defend against the suit.[60] Kobach denied her allegations and called her claim "ridiculous". He gave the reason for her firing as "poor performance".[61] Rucker approached Margie Canfield, a 30-year state Republican party employee, to ask for her intervention in dealing with her granddaughter, Courtney. Margie had been with the party in 2007 when Kobach fired her for being "too moderate" for the state GOP. After Kobach departed, she was hired back. Rucker has a long history as a subordinate of Kobach's and also as the chief deputy of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline. Rucker was sanctioned for failing to alert the court to unethical behavior in a case that led to Kline's ability to practice law in Kansas being suspended.[62] In 2016, a federal judge allowed Canfield's wrongful termination case to proceed on religious discrimination grounds.[63]

On September 2, 2015, representatives of groups most likely to be affected by Kobach's plan to shorten a deadline for tens of thousands of suspended voters to produce proof of citizenship, including the ACLU, the League of Women Voters (LWV), the NAACP and the National Organization for Women (NOW), all testified against Kobach's strategy. Kobach did not appear for the hearing but he was supported by an official whom Kobach had appointed to a government post.[64]

In response to criticism from the campaign staff of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kobach called them "left-wing knuckleheads", and remarked that Clinton was getting her "pant suit in a twist," over his stance in favor of implementing some of the toughest voter ID legislation in the nation. Clinton had claimed Kobach's interventions were an attempt to make voting more difficult for key Democratic constituencies, such as young people and racial minorities.[65]

In October 2015, Kobach spoke at a conference organized by Social Contract Press, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.[66][67][68]

While speaking on February 20, 2016, to a committee of the Kansas 2nd Congressional District delegates, regarding their challenges of the proof-of-citizenship voting law he championed in 2011, Kobach said, "The ACLU and their fellow communist friends, the League of Women Voters — you can quote me on that, sued", making sure reporters in the room heard him.[69] In February 2016, Kobach endorsed Donald Trump in his campaign for the U.S. Presidency, citing his stance on immigration. He proposed a halt to what he claims to be $23 billion in annual remittances by Mexican nationals illegally living in the U.S. unless Mexico makes a one-time $5–10 billion payment for Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.[70]

Election ruling in 2014 U.S. Senate race[edit]

In September 2014, Democrat Chad Taylor announced he was withdrawing from that year's U.S. Senate race in Kansas. Kobach ruled that he had improperly filed his withdrawal, and his name had to remain on the ballot. Taylor claimed to have followed the instructions of Assistant Secretary of State Brad Bryant on his filing, which was completed within the appropriate time frame. Citing concurrence from Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kobach's move was cheered by the Kansas Republican Party. Both Kobach and Schmidt were members of Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts' honorary campaign committee. Taylor's attempt to withdraw left the race more open for independent Greg Orman, strengthening his challenge to Sen. Roberts.[71]

On September 18, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Taylor's withdrawal was proper and that Kobach had to remove Taylor's name from the ballot.[72][73] On October 1, 2014, a panel of three Shawnee County judges ruled that the Kansas Democratic Party was not required by state law to fill the vacancy on the ballot; Kobach ordered the ballots to be printed the next day.[74] Kobach was re-elected in November 2014 over moderate former Republican State Senator and Democratic candidate Jean Kurtis Schodorf by a margin of nearly 19%.[75]

Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act[edit]

On April 18, 2011, Governor Brownback signed a bill known as the “Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act”,[76] introduced by Kobach.[77]

The core provisions of the SAFE Act are as follows:

  1. newly-registered Kansas voters must prove U.S. citizenship when registering to vote;
  2. voters must show photographic identification when casting a vote in person; and
  3. voters must have their signature verified and provide a full Kansas driver’s license or non-driver ID number when voting by mail.[78]

Prosecutions of voter fraud[edit]

In 2015, Kobach received from the legislature and the governor the right to prosecute cases of voter fraud, after claiming for four years that Kansas had a massive problem of voter fraud that the local and state prosecutors were not adequately addressing. At that time, he "said he had identified more than 100 possible cases of double voting." Testifying during hearings on the bill, questioned by Rep. John Carmichael, Kobach was unable to cite a single other state that gives its Secretary of State such authority.[79] By February 7, 2017, Kobach had filed nine cases and obtained six convictions. All were regarding cases of double voting; none would have been prevented by voter ID laws.[13][57][14] One case was dropped. The other two were still pending. All six convictions involved elderly citizens who were unaware that they had done anything wrong.

One of those prosecuted, Randall Kilian, thought he was expressing his preference about marijuana legalization as it affected his new Colorado retirement property after receiving a mail-in ballot in 2012. He didn't want pot growing next to his home, so he marked that issue only, and mailed it in as instructed. The sheriff and county attorney of Ellis County, Kansas, learned of this and questioned Kilian. Both concluded he had not intentionally broken the law and decided not to prosecute.

However, when Kobach got prosecutorial authority in such cases, a year later, he reopened the case. Trying to avoid the expense of a trial, Kilian pleaded guilty in 2016 and paid a $2,500 fine.[80][81]

It is the opinion of election-law experts, that Kobach is deliberately creating impediments for voters who represent Democratic constituencies.[10] University of Kansas assistant professor of political science Patrick Miller includes voter intimidation as a form of fraud. “The substantially bigger issue with voter fraud has been election fraud being perpetrated by election officials and party officials tampering with votes.” "It is not the rampant problem that the public believes that is there. Kris Kobach says it is. Donald Trump says it is. And the data just aren’t there to prove it. It’s a popular misconception that this is a massive problem.”

A Brennan Center for Justice report calculated that rates of actual voter fraud are between 0.00004 percent and 0.0009 percent. The Center calculated that someone is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud.[80]

Connection with Trump administration[edit]

Kobach was a member of the Platform Committee of the 2016 Republican National Convention.[82] He was rumored to be on the short list of possible Attorney General nominees in Donald Trump's administration.[83] Trump ultimately chose Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.[84]

It was later reported that Kobach was being considered for Secretary of Homeland Security, and was photographed carrying a document entitled "Department of Homeland Security, Kobach Strategic Plan for First 365 Days" into a meeting with Trump.[85] This plan reportedly included a register of Muslims as part of a suite of proposals,[86][87] which also included the "extreme vetting" of immigrants.[88] Around the same time, Carl Higbie had cited the internment of Japanese Americans as a historical precedent for a register of Muslims.[89][90] The suggestions were met with fierce criticism,[91][92][93][94] with former internee George Takei describing the idea as "dangerous"[95] and declaring that "[r]egistration of any group of people, and certainly registration of Muslims, is a prelude to internment."[96] President-elect Trump’s transition team later issued a statement to the Huffington Post denying that Trump supports a Muslim registry,[96] which is inconsistent with Trump's own statements from 2015.[94][97][98]

Trump ultimately nominated John F. Kelly, who was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security by the United States Senate with a vote of 88-11.[99]

The New York Times has described him as "close to the White House inner circle, including the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon",[100] and having told the Associated Press that he met Trump in May 2017 through his son Donald Trump Jr., "with whom he has a mutual friend". He was named vice chairman of the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity by Trump in 2017. In June 2017 he told supporters that he has had “the honor of personally advising President Trump, both before the election and after the election, on how to reduce illegal immigration.”[100] When asked by ABC News about President Trumps twitter claim that “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway gave Kobach as a source of the claim. Kobach later told reporters in Kansas that, “I think the president-elect is absolutely correct when he says the number of illegal votes cast exceeds the popular-vote margin between him and Hillary Clinton,”[101] pointing to a 2014 study led by Jesse Richman, that estimated that “6.4 percent of noncitizens voted in 2008.” (Richman's results were contested by other political scientists, one of whom stated "the best estimate of the percentage of noncitizens who vote is zero...")[102]

Voter fraud claims[edit]

As Secretary of State of Kansas, Kobach has implemented some of the strictest voter ID legislation in the nation and has fought to remove nearly 20,000 properly registered voters from the state's voter rolls.[12] The Brennan Center for Justice describes him as "a key architect behind many of the nation’s anti-voter and anti-immigration policies."[103] Kobach has periodically made unsubstantiated claims about the extent of voter fraud in the United States.[6][7][8][9][10][104][105][103]

In 2010, Kobach asserted there could be as many as 2,000 people who were using the identities of dead people to vote in Kansas; the campaign cited "Albert K. Brewer" as an example of one such deceased individual who was voting.[106][102] The individual in question was, however, still alive.[106][102]

Kobach supported President Trump's claims that millions of non-citizens voted in the 2016 presidential election.[107][108] Kobach estimated that 3.2 million non-citizens voted, citing a widely debunked study.[109] Kobach complained that CNN ran text on the screen during one of his appearances, which said that Kobach's claims that millions illegally voted in the 2016 election were "false".[110]

Richard L. Hasen, the Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, and election law expert has described Kobach as a "charlatan", "provocateur" and "a leader nationally in making irresponsible claims that voter fraud is a major problem in this country."[111][10]


Kobach has championed the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which compares state records to find people registered to vote in more than one place. The New York Times credits him with rapidly expanding the reach of the program, which now includes more than 30 states. According to the New York Times, "The program searches for double registrations using only voters’ first and last names and date of birth, and it generates thousands of false matches — John Smith in Kansas can easily be confused with John Smith in Iowa."[102] Due to the tendency to produce false matches, the program could be used to suppress the vote and wrongly remove legitimate voters from voter rolls.[102]

The program has led to sensational and misleading headlines: for example, 35,750 voters in the 2012 North Carolina general election matched with voters with supposedly identical voters in other states, but upon close investigation only "eight cases of potential double voting were referred to prosecutors and two people were convicted."[102] Doubts over the accuracy of Crosscheck has lead some states to withdraw from the program.[102] A 2016 paper by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania found that if the program were fully implemented “200 legitimate voters may be impeded from voting for every double vote stopped.”[102]

Proof of citizenship requirement law[edit]

From 2013-15, more than 36,000 Kansas residents (14% of those trying to register to vote) were placed on a suspense list because they failed to meet the proof of citizenship requirements that had been introduced in a 2013 law. Kobach justified the law, saying that it stopped what he described as the rampant problem of non-citizens voting; Reuters noted that "there is little evidence" of non-citizen voting being a problem.[104] A federal judge ordered Kobach to register more than 18,000 voters kept off the rolls by the proof of citizenship law; in her ruling, she wrote, "The court cannot find that the state's interest in preventing non-citizens from voting in Kansas outweighs the risk of disenfranchising thousands of qualified voters".[104] The judge noted that there was only evidence of three non-citizens in Kansas voting between 2003 and 2013.[104]

A Reuters analysis of the individuals on a suspense list found that "more than 60 percent were age 25 or under. They were clustered in the high-population areas of Wichita, Topeka and the Kansas City suburbs, and the college towns of Lawrence and Manhattan."[104] 41 percent were unaffiliated, 35 percent registered as Democrats and 23 percent as Republicans.[104] Reuters notes that the proof of citizenship requirement "has created a chaotic two-tier system where some Kansans can vote in state elections and some cannot, some need to provide proof of citizenship and others do not, and many county election officials are uncertain how to proceed."[104]

Tossing of provisional ballots[edit]

In January 2017, Kansas election officials tossed thousands of uncounted provisional ballots cast in November 2016, saying that there was no record that those residents were registered voters.[112] Kobach’s office did not compile a count of how many ballots were tossed, but an assessment by the Associated Press and the League of Women Voters of the state’s 11 largest counties show that at least 8,864 ballots cast were tossed, slightly more than 1 percent of total votes in those counties.[112]

Commission on Election Integrity[edit]

President Trump issued an executive order establishing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on May 11, 2017.[113] White House officials reported that Kobach will serve as vice-chairman (with Vice President Pence as chairman) of the twelve-member bipartisan commission, which will "review claims of improper registrations and voting, fraudulent registrations and voter suppression".[114] The ACLU, representing plaintiffs in a voting rights case, asked the presiding federal judge to prevent Kobach from withholding from the public documents he presented to Trump by virtue of marking them "confidential." The plaintiffs demanded the public release of those documents they have received, that had been prepared with state funds, claiming Kobach "made statements to the public, the Court, and the President, suggesting that noncitizen registration fraud is a serious, widespread problem," at the same time he tried to hide those same documents that reject his claim, to prevent having to testify in open court about those materials.[115]

In June 2017, the federal magistrate judge found that Kobach had made "patently misleading representations" to the court in the course of the document dispute. In light of Kobach's "deceptive conduct and lack of candor", he was fined $1,000 and ordered to submit to questioning by the ACLU about the documents.[116]

Questioning Barack Obama's citizenship[edit]

Kobach repeatedly called on Obama to release his birth certificate and defended those who pushed the false notion that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. As Kansas Secretary of State, he requested additional evidence of Obama's birth before he would allow Obama to appear on Kansas ballots for the 2012 presidential election, even after the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate. In 2009, Kobach "joked at a GOP barbecue that Obama and God had something in common because neither has a birth certificate."[117][118] Kobach responded to criticism of the joke with "Lighten up. It’s just a joke... Are they really suggesting it is forbidden to tell jokes about Barack Obama?"[118] In 2010, during his candidacy for the Kansas secretary of state, Kobach said that Obama could end the controversy over his citizenship by producing a “long-form” birth certificate.[119][120] At the time, Hawaii officials had repeatedly confirmed Obama's birth in their state, and a federal judge had thrown out a lawsuit on the issue, saying it was a waste of the court’s time.[119] Kobach said that the certificate released by Obama "doesn’t have a doctor’s signature on it. .. Look, until a court says otherwise, I'm willing to accept that he's a natural U.S. citizen. But I think it is a fair question: Why just not produce the long-form birth certificate?"[119][118]

In September 2012, whilst leading the State Objections Board, Kobach requested additional evidence that Obama was born in the United States.[121] Kobach said he did not have enough evidence to determine if Obama could appear on the Kansas ballot for the 2012 presidential election.[122] The New York Times wrote that the action of the Kansas authorities "reignited long-running conspiracy theories that the president was not born in the United States."[120] CNN reported that "the Kansas ballot measure is one of several examples of the birther movement's still-persistent presence."[123] At the time, Obama had released his long-form birth certificate but CBS News noted that "so-called "birthers" persist with a variety of arguments that he is ineligible for the presidency. Generally, they claim that the birth certificate as released by the president is a forgery or that he is not eligible for the presidency despite being born in Hawaii." Kobach maintained that the questioning of Obama's citizenship was not frivolous.[122] Later that September, after a complainant dropped his challenge of Obama's eligibility for the Kansas ballot and after Hawaii officials stated sent a note to Kobach saying that Obama's birth certificate was genuine, Kobach allowed Obama to remain on the ballot and said, "That, for me, settles the issue".[124][120]

In 2016, Kobach said that there are “interesting things” about the question of Obama’s citizenship that “just made you scratch your head.”[125] Kobach said that Obama's opposition to Kansas's proof of citizenship requirement law was "maybe" because the president was not a citizen himself: "maybe that’s why he doesn’t talk about proof of citizenship, because he, you know, he would rather not bring up the citizenship issue."[125]

Other involvements[edit]

While at Harvard, Kobach served as Republican Club President. In that capacity, he supported the Afghan Mujahideen in their war against the Soviet Union, stating, "[T]he Afghan rebels' cause gets the least amount of attention and support in this country".[126]

Kobach served as a missionary to Uganda in 2005 and 2006. Previously, he had volunteered to help build a school in a South African township through the Get Ahead Foundation.[127] He served as a Big Brother. He was a national rowing champion (men's pair event, master's division in 1998; men's double event, master's division, 2001, 2002).[128] He is an Eagle Scout.[129]

He is currently of counsel with the Immigration Law Reform Institute,[130] the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Personal life[edit]

Kobach was married on June 23, 2001 at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Kansas to Heather Mannschreck, a former environmental systems engineer who now has a part-time photography business in addition to homeschooling their four daughters.[20][131]

Electoral history[edit]

Kansas's 3rd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kris Kobach 39,129 44.0
Republican Adam Taff 38,922 43.7
Republican Patricia Lightner 10,836 12.1
Kansas's 3rd Congressional District Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Dennis Moore (inc.) 184,050 54.8
Republican Kris Kobach 145,542 43.3
Libertarian Joe Bellis 3,191 0.9
Reform Richard Wells 2,956 0.8
Kansas Secretary of State Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kris Kobach 156,462 50.6
Republican Elizabeth "Libby" Ensley 83,275 26.9
Republican J. R. Claeys 69,039 22.3
Kansas Secretary of State Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kris Kobach 489,640 59.0
Democratic Chris Biggs 308,641 37.2
Libertarian Phillip Horatio Lucas 17,336 2.0
Reform Derek Langseth 13,896 1.6
Kansas Secretary of State Republican Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kris Kobach (inc.) 166,793 64.7
Republican Scott Morgan 90,680 35.2
Kansas Secretary of State Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kris Kobach (inc.) 508,926 59.2
Democratic Jean Kurtis Schodorf 350,692 40.7



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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Chris Biggs
Secretary of State of Kansas