Archive for Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Editorial: Kobach conflict

The Kansas Senate advanced one measure favored by the Kansas secretary of state but added a provision he is less likely to support.

March 6, 2013


A bill passed by the Kansas Senate last week was a mixed bag for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

The initial bill under consideration would give the Secretary of State’s Office the power to prosecute election fraud cases. Kobach has vigorously supported the legislation, saying that the prosecution of these cases shouldn’t be left to county and district attorneys, who can’t give them the proper attention. Given the lack of evidence of significant voter fraud in the state and the fact that local prosecutors oppose the bill because they believe they have the situation under control, adding enforcement powers and staff to the Secretary of State’s Office seems like a poor expenditure of state funds. Another drawback of allowing any secretary of state to prosecute voter fraud cases is that some people in that office might allow political motivation to influence their prosecutorial strategy. For instance, Kobach’s contention that voter fraud is a big problem in Kansas might lead him to pursue questionable cases.

Nonetheless, the Senate approved the bill. However, before doing so, they added a largely unrelated amendment that would require Kobach to abolish his Prairie Fire Political Action Committee. Senators apparently weren’t worried about the political problems of allowing the secretary of state to prosecute voter fraud but were clear on the political problems associated with a secretary of state operating his own PAC.

Legislators and other Kansans need look no further than last November’s disputed 54th District Kansas House race to see the problems with the secretary of state operating a PAC. After House districts were redrawn, Democratic Rep. Ann Mah was moved into the 54th District and was challenged by Republican Ken Corbet. After the election, Mah trailed Corbet by just 44 votes and sought to obtain the names of people who had cast provisional ballots to urge them to do the follow-up necessary to make sure their votes were counted. Kobach filed a lawsuit in federal court to block Mah’s effort.

In the end, both Kobach and Mah lost; the court ruled against Kobach, but Mah still lost the race. The kicker, however, is that a campaign report filed with the Secretary of State’s office on Nov. 2, 2012, shows that Kobach’s own Prairie Fire PAC had paid $3,123 for an item listed as “Ken Corbet mailer” — a mailer supporting Mah’s opponent.

Did his PAC’s support of Corbet have any impact on Kobach’s pursuit of this case? It’s impossible to prove, but the PAC’s activity certainly calls the secretary’s of state’s actions into question.

Ideally, the two issues covered by the legislation approved by the Senate last week should be separated as the bill moves forward. Whether or not Kobach is successful in obtaining voter fraud prosecution powers, the need to ban the state’s top election official from operating a political action committee is clear.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Kobach only does whatever promotes Kobach. He has no other motivation for anything he does.

bad_dog 5 years, 3 months ago

"You'll have better luck if you go snipe hunting."

And enjoy greater credibility with the electorate, as well.

2xhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

His degree says more about Harvard than it does about Kris...

somebodynew 5 years, 3 months ago

Don't you know, he is already on his next 'campaign' - the bogus law about Federal laws not applying to Kansas firearms. That is obviously the next crisis he has to solve !!

This man is pure danger for regular folks and should not be trusted with prosecutorial powers or anything else. And this editorial is correct, NOONE (either party) in that position should be allowed to have a PAC and support anyone in an election.

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

Just taking even more power away from local governments. This is what they would do, and did do at the Federal level. Against big government? No they are liars again. When are people going to stop falling for it?

Larry Sturm 5 years, 3 months ago

The only voter fraud we have is large corporation money PACS that lie to the voters.

voevoda 5 years, 3 months ago

If Kobach doesn't recognize on his own that it is a conflict of interest for him to have a PAC to influence the outcome of elections while holding a public trust to guarantee the fairness of elections, he is too ethically challenged to hold public office.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

And this bit from Steve Benen. Should we expect Sproul to be named an adviser to Kobach sometime soon? It would be on a par with Laffer's role with Brownback.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

It should be obvious that Kobach's motivation for having prosecution of 'voter fraud' under his thumb is so that he can overlook GOP registration, election and tabulation fraud while magnifying minor infractions by anyone opposed to the GOP cabal.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

I was going to ask why the Republicans are so afraid of the Democrats in Kansas, of all places. Then I realized it's the moderate Republicans that they're afraid of---you know, the ones who don't follow the Koch line. The extreme rightwing knows they can't keep this up much longer unless they put their thumb on the scale.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 3 months ago

Kansas voters are getting what they deserve.

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