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Archive for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Secretary of State Kris Kobach criticized for forming PAC

March 6, 2012

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— Secretary of State Kris Kobach faced bipartisan criticism Monday for forming his own political action committee, with legislators saying it is inappropriate for the state’s chief elections officer to move so openly toward involvement in others’ partisan campaigns.

But Kobach said the legislators are criticizing him because he’s a conservative Republican and haven’t spoken up when past Kansas secretaries of state have been involved in politics.

“The hypocrisy is amusing,” he said.

Kobach formed the Prairie Fire PAC on Feb. 15 and listed himself as chairman, according to an organization statement he signed and filed with the state Governmental Ethics Commission. The statement does not list an affiliation with any group and describes Prairie Fire as a “leadership PAC.”

Prairie Fire’s creation went unnoticed at the Statehouse until Monday, when The Associated Press saw Prairie Fire’s name on an online list of PACs maintained by the ethics commission. By forming a PAC, Kobach can raise funds and spend money on political activities outside his own campaign committee.

Kobach, a former law professor, is already a national figure in debates over illegal immigration because he helped draft tough new laws in Alabama and Arizona. He has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and drawn criticism from top legislative Democrats for serving as the honorary chairman of a GOP state Senate candidate’s campaign.

“This guy has consistently just gone over the line in terms of his partisan political activity,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. “He ought to be unbiased and objective in terms of his responsibilities in office.”

The one-page form filed for Prairie Fire does not spell out how it intends to be involved in this year’s elections, but Hensley and other legislators said they presume Kobach will support fellow conservatives in Republican primaries in August and GOP candidates in the November general election.

Kobach said the PAC hasn’t raised any money and no decisions have been made about which candidates to support. However, he wouldn’t rule out having the PAC involved in GOP primaries in support of candidates “who are serious about fighting voter fraud.”

The secretary of state formed his PAC as legislators are considering his proposal to require people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to prove their U.S. citizenship, starting June 15. Legislators enacted a proof-of-citizenship requirement last year but said it wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2013.

Kobach contends the rule will prevent non-citizens from registering, and that it makes the most sense to have it in place before the normal surge of registrations before a presidential contest. Critics say the rule will suppress voting by young, poor, minority and elderly voters.

House Elections Committee Chairman Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, said he’s less offended by Kobach forming a PAC than by existing PACs created by legislative leaders.

Schwab said Kobach’s PAC is attracting criticism because, “It’s a more polarizing figure this time.”

The Republican and Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate have fundraising committees that are part of their state political parties. Democrats in both chambers and Senate Republicans also have their own leadership PACs, formed before a 2000 state law banned the formation of new PACs by lawmakers.

The ban doesn’t apply to statewide elected officials, but most have not taken advantage of the loophole. Democrat Kathleen Sebelius formed a PAC as insurance commissioner and kept it as governor. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has the Road Map PAC, which, along with his campaign committee, is affiliated with a nonprofit group formed for possible independent activities.er

State Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican, said forming a PAC goes against Kansans’ expectations that the secretary of state will be unbiased in overseeing elections.

“I think most people would say that’s inappropriate,” Vratil said.

But Schwab said that because secretaries of state are elected, they’ve been involved in politics for decades. Kobach noted that secretaries of state have overseen their own elections without complaints. Also, campaign finance records available online show that one of Kobach’s predecessors, Ron Thornburgh, made at least two small contributions to candidates directly while in office.

“Their criticism only extends to conservatives,” Kobach said of Hensley and Vratil.

Comments

Mixolydian 2 years, 9 months ago

My only comment on this article is, Ron Thornburgh was deservedly well respected. That is all.

Mike1949 2 years, 9 months ago

If it comes from a loophole, why don't they close it? Duh!!!!!

Or is that counter to the conservative goal of stacking the deck so they can stay in power. They already passed it for legislators, why not for all political jobs for the state. As an independent, I would question his conflict of interest. There ain't no way he can be unbiased!

blindrabbit 2 years, 9 months ago

What do you expect from a former used car salesman!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

From Kobach's perspective, he's incapable of conflict of interest. For him there is only one possible interest in the world, and that's self-interest. His purpose for this PAC is to allow him to buy influence with folks who will then fall in line behind him.

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 9 months ago

Our moonlighting secretary of state

Kobach was alleged to have made $100,000, while secretary of state, as part of his involvement with Farmers Branch, Texas. The Federation of American Immigration Reform hired him to author an anti-immigration ordinance, according to the past mayor pro tem of that city.

But thanks to the Statement of Substantial Interests, filed in April 2011, we know of 10 others who have paid Kobach recently. Each represents income to Kobach of no less than $2,000.

Kobach received payment from the law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, and Stewart, which claims to be one of America’s leading labor and employment law firms.

Kobach received payment from the city of Fremont, Neb., where he drafted an anti-illegal immigration ordinance.

Kobach received payment from Snell & Wilmer, a law firm in Arizona.

Kobach received payment from Maricopa County, Ariz., where he charged $300 an hour and a monthly stipend of $1,500 plus expenses, according to National Public Radio. Kobach had helped draft the famous anti-illegal laws of that state.

Kobach received payment by Digital Ally, Inc., which specializes in security cameras.

Kobach received payment from the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund in St. Louis, Mo., an organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly.

Kobach received payment from the 7th District Missouri Republican Assembly.

Kobach received payment from The Federalist Society, a very conservative legal organization.

Kobach received payment from CMP Susquehanna Corp. as a Sunday night radio talk show host for a station in Kansas City.

But the number one benefactor is the Immigration Reform Law Institute, where Kobach serves as counsel. This organization focuses on anti-illegal immigration reform across the United States. And it is a pot of money for Kobach that is presumably quite substantial.

Read more here: http://joco913.com/news/our-moonlighting-secretary-of-state/#storylink=cpy

Phillbert 2 years, 9 months ago

He certainly seems to have a lot of "spare time" to work on everything but the job he was elected to do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Yea, but the Sec. of State job is so boring, and doesn't make Kris the headlines he deserves.

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 9 months ago

Take the ba out of Kobach and you get a KOCH!

KS 2 years, 9 months ago

Kobach could stay home sick one day and this liberal Lawrence crowd would still complain. Get a life folks.

Beth Ennis 2 years, 9 months ago

I disagree. When you are a public employee (I work for the federal gov't), everything you do is as a public employee. That is why senators, governors, presidents, etc, have to turn over all of their investments to a blind trust while they are in office. As a government employee, I have to get permission to have a 2nd job, and if I am writing software on my own time and I'm a programmer for the gov't, there is no such thing as my own time and all software I develop is government owned. I am interested in seeing the rules/regulations on what he can do "on his own time". I suspect he does a lot of this work during normal working hours, so he is getting paid by you and I to do work for companies and people outside the state of Kansas. That is appalling.

parrothead8 2 years, 9 months ago

If "other people used to do it," is his best defense, then he doesn't have a very good defense for his unethical actions. What happened to conservatives holding themselves up as beacons of moral values?

If Kobach had any respect for his office, he'd say, "Yes, my predecessors did this, but because it is unethical behavior for the Kansas Secretary of State to form his own PAC, I will hold that office to the standard that the voters of Kansas deserve."

Getaroom 2 years, 9 months ago

Kobach is every bit the scoundrel that Brownbackward is. If Kobach and the rest of The Faith Party(GOP) keeps amping it up, it won't be long before personhooded sperm are required to have voter ID's issued right along with their Birther Certificates and Conceal Carry permits - right out of the shoot! Man-o-man, the Obama haters grow more bitter, worked up and frustrated everyday knowing that not one of The Faith Party is worth a plug nickel and no matter how much SuperPAC money is flushed down the toilet to float them back to the surface. But even so, it is possible to still have some fun but be careful it is really scary.... A diffi-cult riddle..... 1.) How many Catholic/Converted Catholic anchor zygotes does it take to mess up a 2012 Mayan Calendar USA Presidential Election? (A)Sanitorium (B)The BIG Giant Head or, (A) and (B) (No Ballot Box stuffing - and no bus loads of persons of color allowed!!)

2.) How many potentially Immigrated DNA Mormon anchor zygotes does it take to mess up a 2012 Mayan Calendar USA Presidential Election? Any reasonable offer accepted

overthemoon 2 years, 9 months ago

Fighting voter fraud that doesn't exist. Unless you count the 2000 election. Or Ohio in 2004. Voter fraud is the very least of our problems, unless the fight against the nonexistent fraud is really a way to create legal ways for unelectable GOP candidates to steal elections.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

"Unless you count the 2000 election. Or Ohio in 2004."

That was vote-counting fraud, not voter fraud. It's the real potential problem, but not surprisingly, Kobach isn't the least bit concerned about that (probably because he's the chief vote counter in this state.)

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 9 months ago

When you see the kind of poor judgement displayed by Kobach you have to realize that there is no cure for this.

This is what happens when you have an absence of common sense and the complete absence of wisdom that we learn to associate with talented and responsible leadership.

There are so many of these people in our government today. It is like a plague of dumb people.

I wonder if Kansans who voted for this guy are happy with the results or if they are as embarrassed as I am watching this guy make fools out of us all.

verity 2 years, 9 months ago

Kobach seems to delight in shoving it in our faces.

A true conservative has integrity as their guiding light, not greed.

There's only one way to fix this.

Next election elect someone with integrity.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 9 months ago

"But Kobach said the legislators are criticizing him because he’s a conservative Republican and haven’t spoken up when past Kansas secretaries of state have been involved in politics."

I am not doubting this has happened, but to what event or events is Mr. Kobach referring? Specifics, please.

preebo 2 years, 9 months ago

The greatest form of criticism is to not vote for re-election!

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 9 months ago

With or without a PAC, I don't think anyone believes this clown is an unbiased elections officer. He is actively trying to disenfranchise Hispanic voters and first time voters. The GOP in Kansas has moved too far to the extreme right just as has happened with the four clowns seeking the GOP nomination for president. I used the word clown because at first glance at these guys I want to laugh. After reflection, there really isn't anything funny about them at all...

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 9 months ago

With or without a PAC, I don't think anyone believes this clown is an unbiased elections officer. He is actively trying to disenfranchise Hispanic voters and first time voters. The GOP in Kansas has moved too far to the extreme right just as has happened with the four clowns seeking the GOP nomination for president. I used the word clown because at first glance at these guys I want to laugh. After reflection, there really isn't anything funny about them at all...

voevoda 2 years, 9 months ago

Isn't part of the Secretary of State's job to make sure that PACs don't violate campaign laws? So he's going to be the watchdog over himself?

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