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Opinion

Opinion

Full-time job

Kansans deserve the full attention of their statewide elected officials.

January 6, 2011

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When the voters of Kansas elect a state official, they are hiring that person to do a job. State offices are important jobs that Kansans assume will get the full attention of the people they elect.

Surprisingly, not every elected official in Kansas shares that assumption. Kris Kobach, who will take office next week as Kansas secretary of state, has said he will work at least 40 hours a week in his state job but he also plans to continue doing outside legal work related to immigration law during his “spare time.”

Kobach’s plan has raised concerns among a number of Kansans, including Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who will push for legislation that reminds state officeholders of the responsibilities of their jobs. The legislation would prohibit not only holders of statewide elective office but also some appointed cabinet secretaries and department heads from pursuing significant outside jobs while they are in office.

Kobach has promised to fight the proposal, saying it is “a brazen attempt to stop me from making the progress and reforms I’ve made in the illegal immigration area.” Perhaps so, but that isn’t the job the voters of Kansas hired Kobach to do. They hired him to be the secretary of state.

Having state officials pursuing second careers while in office raises serious concerns. First, in everything they do, state officials represent the state of Kansas. They don’t punch a time clock after which they can pursue any interest they have regardless of how it might reflect on the state. Even if everyone in Kansas agreed with Kobach’s activities concerning illegal immigration, there certainly is a long list of other jobs or professions that Kansans wouldn’t want their state officials pursuing while in office.

Another key issue is the money. Presumably, Kobach will be paid for the legal services he provides on his second job. Perhaps that money will have no influence on his activities as secretary of state, but allowing state officials to hold significant outside jobs sets a dangerous precedent. Paying a state official to do another job while in office would be a handy way for an outside group or corporation to try to exert influence over state policy. At the very least, that employment would cast doubt on the official’s ethics and raise questions about possible conflicts of interest.

It’s good that Kobach has been forthright about his plans so that the state has an opportunity to establish some parameters for state officeholders that probably should have been set long ago. It is surprising that an elected state official would view his or her job as anything less than a 24-7 commitment to the people of Kansas, but apparently there is a need to clarify that point.

Comments

Les Blevins 3 years, 11 months ago

Well I knew if I lived long enough I would someday read a JW Editorial that I completely agreed with. I see that day has finally arrived. Could this be a slip-up somewhere?

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow, Les. I couldn't agree you with more!

somedude20 3 years, 11 months ago

Kris Kobach is not a witch, in fact, he is just like you

kernal 3 years, 11 months ago

Once again, your comment indicates cognative challenges.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

Let's state the obvious: voters elected Kobach because of his stand and zeal on illegal immigration. Kobach is doing what the majority of his supporters, and most of the people in the state (outside of Lawrence) want him to do. I didn't vote for him. Making legislation to address it may hurt other legislators. The state legislature is a part time job, and the session doesn't go for the whole year. Many state legislators have real jobs or businesses.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

The legislation is directed at full-time officeholders who receive relatively high pay and benefits. It's not directed at our part-time legislators.

notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Why wasn't the legislation proposed by Rep. Davis written to cover ALL full-time state employees? If holding outside employment interferes with the amount of time they have available for their state jobs or creates possible conflicts of interest, shouldn't it cover ALL the people we pay to provide services to the state?

As I mentioned in a previous thread, it's interesting that Mr. Davis proposed this legislation covering only state-wide elected officials after all those elected officials happened to be Republicans.

Orwell 3 years, 11 months ago

No, he proposed it only after one person was elected to statewide office who stated his determination to commit time and efforts to working for someone other than the citizens of Kansas – only after one man refused to honor his public office by forsaking personal enrichment that comes to him entangled with a conflict of interest.

notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Seriously?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

The ethics laws in Kansas are minimal. According to the state website, ethics laws cover campaigns, travel and gifts, and a few other things. I've worked in many private and public sector jobs that have far more defined ethics guidelines. Whenever I used my professional skills outside of my job, I had to ask for permission, even for pro Bono. Many professions expect this. Kansas ethics law should address this topic.

notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

No disagreement. My question was why does the proposed legislation target only state-wide elected officials? Why not all full-time state employees? Could it possibly be that Mr. Davis doesn't want to tick off the state employee unions?

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

Isn't that what this paragraph says?

Kobach’s plan has raised concerns among a number of Kansans, including Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who will push for legislation that reminds state officeholders of the responsibilities of their jobs. The legislation would prohibit not only holders of statewide elective office but also some appointed cabinet secretaries and department heads from pursuing significant outside jobs while they are in office.

ststoff 3 years, 11 months ago

The citizens of Kansas voted overwhelmingly for Kobach. I am always amazed how the liberals will always try to change the rules when it suits them. Kansas is a conservative state Kobachs election proves that. Give me 40 hours of Kobach anytime. 40 seconds of liberals is too much for me. Like it or not Kansas is a conservative state, Kobach was voted in by a mandate. Davis has a business outside of the legislature most of these legislators do should he give up his business ?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

Translation: As long as I agree with his outside activities, I don't care if he rips off Kansas taxpayers by shirking the responsibilities he was elected (and will get well paid) to take on.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Any info on voter turnout?

Unless a vast majority of eligible voters actually voted, and a vast majority of them voted for Kobach, it isn't quite right to call his win a "mandate" or "overwhelming".

For example, when 60% of American voters vote in a presidential election, and one candidate wins by 55% of the vote, they're only actually getting a bit more than 30% of eligible voters to vote for them.

Hardly a mandate.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

A majority is still a majority. "Good intentions" do not count.

I didn't vote for him. And I'm not defending him. But your logic is weak.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

It has nothing to do with good intentions.

A small majority of 60% of eligible voters is a minority of eligible voters.

It's simple mathematics.

ignati5 3 years, 11 months ago

I wish somebody with expertise in political research or investigative reporting would look into Kobach's claims that he was instrumental in framing Arizona's recent immigration law. To hear him tell it, he was the grey eminence of the movement, but I have yet to find a single reference to any work of his in the many articles I have read on the controversial law, despite their mention of people who did influence it. I have a hunch his claims fall into the same category as Al Gore's invention of the internet or Richard Blumenthal's Viet-Nam service. As he now proposes to inhibit Kansans' voters rights as a supposed expert on voter fraud, we should know the difference between resume padding and real knowledge of a issue before giving him our support. BG

voevoda 3 years, 11 months ago

I did check out Kobach's credentials on immigration law. To judge from his law review articles, it's weak. He got into this area only a few years ago and he has published very little on the subject (other than press releases and other fluff). His claim to fame is an single article he coauthored with Ashcroft--a big conservative Republican figure. Interestingly, back in 2007 he praised the law Arizona had passed earlier, to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants rather than running after the immigrants themselves. He claimed that the law was working and it was a model for the rest of the nation. That's the approach the Obama administration has decided to take. What made Kobach change his opinion, and claim that the former Arizona approach amounted to "doing nothing" and "arrest everyone on suspicion" was the way to go? The evidence suggests that the impetus came from the private prison lobby. If large numbers of suspected illegal immigrants are rounded up by states, who have no power to deport them, then the states will need to keep them incarcerated in the meantime. Private prisons will do a booming business, at taxpayers' expense.
If the American-born children of illegal immigrants are also denied citizenship, as Kobach now proposes (see the article in today's LJW), then there will be an even larger population of the permanently incarcerated. That's because American-born children would have no other citizenship, so they couldn't be deported anywhere. They would need to live their lives as prisoners in the US--maybe in concentration-camp-type settings.
Both conservatives and liberals should be horrified at such a prospect.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Do you have any source for the claim that children born on American soil would not have any citizenship rights in the country that their parents are citizens of?

voevoda 3 years, 11 months ago

It depends upon the country, and whether the parents are able to communicate the birth of their child through the proper channel within the time allowed. In the case of poor illegal immigrants, it is doubtful that the parents could do so. If the children aren't American citizens, then they become stateless. This certainly has happened already in the world.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Any source?

It's hard to believe, and somebody posted on another thread that children of Mexican citizens born in this country are Mexican citizens.

How long does one have, and what are the proper channels?

I would think that if my wife and I went to Europe, and she gave birth there while on vacation, that our child would be an American citizen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

I heard a report on Turks who grew up in Germany returning to Turkey, and finding themselves not fitting in well. I expect this is a common reaction when people are removed from the culture they grew up in.

If Kobach gets his way, even if they can get "citizenship" in the country their parents came from, these kids have grown up here, and are, for all practical purposes, Americans.

Deporting these people to countries where they don't speak the language well, if at all, and have no established network of support can prove disastrous not only to them, but for the communities to which they are deported, since a very high percentage of them end up engaging in criminal activities because they have no other options.

But this is the age of Republican Schadenfreude, so don't expect to see this issue go away.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Could be.

I was just questioning the claim that children born here wouldn't have citizenship in the country their parents are citizens of - it doesn't seem plausible to me.

And, I still think it's a bad policy, and not the original intent of the amendment used, to grant citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants.

LogicMan 3 years, 11 months ago

These are jobs, not slavery. Conflict-of-interest, performance reviews, elections, etc. are already in effect - there is no need to create more red tape or to be jealous of high-performers who don't get much R&R. Just a need for the public and the media to perform their traditional watchdog duties.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

"These are jobs, not slavery."

That's a really odd comment. Of course it's a job, but one you have to get elected to do. He's not bussing tables. And his compensation package is pretty generous, by most people's standards. If he can't live on what the state is going to pay him, he shouldn't have sought the office.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

The question is whether we have the right to tell him what to do outside of his official duties.

Most jobs don't include a prescription on what you do outside work.

woodscolt 3 years, 11 months ago

The answer is if you can't monitor how much he works on his state job as opposed to his part time job, then most people of integrity would not create the conflict for the same reason.

I say the less this guy works for the state the better off the state is.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

I disagree. I have had ethics guidelines with every job I've had. See my comment above.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

How did they restrict your behavior while not at work?

I haven't had any jobs that told me what I could or couldn't do on my own personal time, and would find that an incredibly overreaching thing.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

Two examples:

  1. In some businesses like architecture or fashion, an employee may not share information with a similar business.

  2. Federal employees including congressmen may not receive remuneration for outside activity related to their work.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Those would be clear conflicts of interest, and make sense.

This argument seems to be that he won't do his job well enough if he spends time on other activities outside work, which is less convincing.

Your jobs didn't prohibit you from having hobbies, or other interests, while not at work.

And, if somebody doesn't do a good job, they can be fired.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

I agree. Some ethics guidelines are based on this premise.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

Would #2 apply to Kobach?

  1. Federal employees including congressmen may not receive remuneration for outside activity related to their work.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

Until Koback decided to run on a platform of changing the office of the Secretary of State, going after voter fraud and illegals, the Secretary of State didn't really do anything significant. Most of the work is business registration, and certifying elections. The business part can be done automatically for the most part on the Internet. And elections are a seldom occuring event. What the heck did Biggs do in office? Nothing. Seems like a less than 40 hour a week job to me, regardless of who does it.

jonas_opines 3 years, 11 months ago

I wonder how these comments would be going if this was a democrat spending his time on gay rights issues.

On another note, it's interesting how little intrinsic meaning there is now in the terms liberal and conservative, past the superficial laundry list of stances on hot-button issues.

Liberty275 3 years, 11 months ago

"On another note, it's interesting how little intrinsic meaning there is now in the terms liberal and conservative, past the superficial laundry list of stances on hot-button issues."

Outside of the talking points they parrot without a trace of critical thought, there is no difference in the right and left. Their leader-heros tell them what to think and say, and like robots they bleep bleep the noises programmed into their little PROMs.

The problem is one of mindset. From one of bozo's replies:

"He's not bussing tables."

Kobach is no less a hired employee than the person bussing tables at any restaurant. We need to stop idealizing our elected employees. All of them.

deec 3 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone happen to know if ANY of the immigration laws this guy helped write have been found to be constitutional?

kernal 3 years, 11 months ago

Haven't seen any articles that they are.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

Actually, I think that the whole point of Kobach is rather pointless. He would have been better able to affect change if he was the Attorney General, where he could actually sue the feds over policy or try to push something to the Supreme Court. Because that is where this will end up. Passing regs or laws which limit services or citizenship to illegals will eventually be a civil rights issue at the Supreme Court level. Or he would do better being full time private attorney in a think tank helping states to draft legislation like Arizona. Overall it is pointless. All of Western Kansas and a large portion of Wichita is up to the eyeballs in illegals that possess laughably inadequate fake documentation that cannot even get them a job at a legit meat packing plant (one of the meat plants in Dodge City invalidates 90% of new applicants per week because their paperwork will not pass even a basic gov't background check).

deec 3 years, 11 months ago

Then maybe the meat factories should stop recruiting in Mexico and along the border.

seriouscat 3 years, 11 months ago

I think Kobach is an unprintable word in the highest order, and has an eminently punch-worthy face. Calling him out loudly and watching him closely are actions which are definitely in order. But drafting legislation specifically to address his creepy, politically motivated obsession is small-minded thinking and will likely end up being counter-productive.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

agreed on the last part, and Kobach will likely be out of office or resign soon because of the conflict of interest.

ststoff 3 years, 11 months ago

Voter apathy is a huge problem but if a citizen chooses not to excerise there right to vote who is at fault ? I sincerely wish citizens would vote no matter what side of the political fence they are on. Kobach cleary won by a landslide I believe he has a mandate.

Republican candidate Kris Kobach rolled over Democratic incumbent Chris Biggs in the race for secretary of state Tuesday. With 2,829 of 3,315 precincts reporting, Kobach had received 431,825 votes, while Biggs had garnered 276,016.

I won by a landslide, and I clearly made stopping voter fraud my No. 1 issue," Mr. Kobach said. "I feel like I have a mandate, and I hope legislators will also see that." Thank you so much for all of the ways that you helped make our victory Tuesday night possible. We were outspent by more than $90,000 and faced a barrage of misleading negative ads, yet we won by a 59%-37% landslide. That was only possible because of your help. Our ground game neutralized our opponent's attacks and carried us to victory.

It has been widely acknowledged that the Kansans for Kobach campaign mounted the greatest volunteer effort of any campaign in Kansas in 2010. Our volunteers were everywhere, in great numbers. Whether it was in parades, rallies, or the "clean sweep" program of the Kansas Republican Party, our volunteers consistently showed up in large numbers and brought their "A game."

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Again, without voter turnout numbers, I consider it incorrect to talk of victories as mandates or landslides, regardless of which party does it.

For example, he won by a 60-40% vote (approximately) - if 50% of eligible voters voted, that means he got 60% of 50% of the voters to vote for him, which would translate into a little more than 25% of eligible voters.

So his "landslide" victory would amount to winning a little more than 1/4 of eligible voters votes.

And, of course, I'm not sure a 60-40 split is a landslide in the first place - 90-10 might qualify.

notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

60% of 50% is 30%.

Compared to a little over 18% for his Democratic opponent.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 11 months ago

So essentially some of you believe it would be A-OK for us to elect, say, David Koch as Governor and for Mr. Koch to continue his duties with his company while also serving as Governor.

Brilliant.

booyalab 3 years, 11 months ago

Definitely. I think the less that politicians involve themselves in politics, the better off we all are. Seriously.

Danimal 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm with you Bob, conflicts of interest abound. I knew when Kobach announced his candidacy, if elected, he was going to abuse his new office to advance his personal agenda.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

Most leaders of industry juggle those things all the time. Koch for example is on tyhe board of a lot of non-profit foundations and for-profits. I personally disagree with the fulltime politician job. We complain that our fed politicians are disconnected from Kansas interests when most of them have not lived in Kansas for years.

jonas_opines 3 years, 11 months ago

And how would you be commenting in that scenario?

Liberty275 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't think we need to go on witch hunts after illegals. If they are convicted of a crime, send them back to their home country, otherwise, leave them alone.

I disagree with Kobach. But I also disagree with writing politically motivated laws targeting one person. I disagree with the patent unfairness of politically targeted legislation more.

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Isn't being here illegally a crime in and of itself?

RDFry 3 years, 11 months ago

(Rep Davis wants to limit Kobach's "outside" work)

Leave My Secretary Alone

J-W says it all when he says “It’s good that Kobach has been forthright about his plans [to continue his work on immigration.]” I agree Kobach was forthright about his plans to carryon his work to stop the massive invasion of illegals into this country. Even if he hadn’t talk about it could anyone say they did not understand that would be the case from all the work he has been doing around the country over the last several years including with all his television appearances? J-W does not consider the fact that some of us voted for Prof. Kobach because of his national efforts which were proof positive that he will do what he says he proposes do in Kansas to solve the illegal alien problem. I can assure you many of us voted for him largely because of his involvement in this issue on a national basis. The Secretary of State is a Constitutional officer in Kansas. I’m not sure how much authority the Legislature has over the office. But, Secretary Kobach was hired (voted in) by the citizens (over whelming I might add), and the Secretary answers to “We the People” not the legislature. I will take it as a personal affront to my sovereign rights as a citizen if some partisan in the legislature tries to interfere with the work of Kobach whom I hired and who is suppose to answer to me, not to Rep. Paul Davis (D) of Lawrence. If Rep. Davis wants a piece of Secretary elect Kobach he is going to have to come through me and I suspect a lot of other patriotic citizens for whom Kobach works. The illegal alien invasion is an issue of national importance and it will not be resolved until the states start working together and supporting each other. It is time the states and “We the People” step up to the duties we have as part of this Grand Republic. The efforts of Kobach promote this occurring. Stay off my Secretary. R. D. Fry

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Mr. Davis is also an elected official.

And was voted into office by "we the people" as well.

He may well be representing his constituents' feelings in this matter.

Why are your interests the only ones that matter?

And, why did you vote for him for Secretary of State based on issues that office has no involvement with at all?

notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

"Mr. Davis is also an elected official.

"And was voted into office by "we the people" as well."

So, let's see - an official that garnered 60% of the statewide vote doesn't have any mandate, but a local representative who managed to get 4,832 votes (running unopposed) was elected by "we the people"? (Were you one of those 4,832, BTW, since you said "we"?)

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Hello.

If you're interested in discussion, I'd be glad to do so, provided you give your assurances that you won't start insulting and attacking me personally.

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