Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a thought leader. If you don’t believe so, just ask him.
At least that has been the image Kobach has long conveyed. When it comes to preventing voter fraud and illegal immigrants from influencing our elections, Kobach has touted himself as one of the pre-eminent authorities in the entire country. His talents are so immense he apparently feels he has an obligation to take some time away from his duties as Kansas Secretary of State to advise other states on election law related to illegal immigrants.
Kobach’s reputation allowed him to do something very rare indeed: present an idea to the president. Usually that requires Twitter, but Kobach actually got to do so in person. Thanks to an Associated Press photograph from that meeting there’s reason to believe Kobach’s idea included proposed changes to the National Voter Registration Act. The photo showed Kobach holding a document while shaking hands with then-President-elect Trump in November. The contents of the document were partially visible in the photo, and the text indicated changes to the National Voter Registration Act were among Kobach’s proposals.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to see the document. It may be pertinent to a case the ACLU has challenging Kansas’ voter registration requirements. If Kobach is proposing changes to federal voter registration law, it conceivably may be because Kobach is concerned Kansas’ new law doesn’t comply with the existing federal law.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered, despite objections from Kobach, that he provide the document to the ACLU by Friday.
It is interesting that Kobach doesn’t want to share the document. He apparently thinks the idea is a good one. He presented it to the president. Kobach is an elected official. Elected officials are judged, among other things, on the quality of their ideas. If Kobach has such a fantastic idea that it is worthy of the president’s time, shouldn’t Kansas voters have a chance to hear it too?
Likely, there is some reason related to political strategy that Kobach doesn’t want the idea made public. Kobach is just one of many politicians who are enamored with their strategic minds. The general population: Not so much so. When politicians begin to strategize, they would do well to remind themselves of their actual talents by looking at the country. Washington, D.C., many days is on the verge of dysfunction. Kansas, being an overachiever, often seeks to go one step further. It is on the verge of being dysfunctional and destitute. So much for strategy.
Judge Robinson’s ruling ordering Kobach to turn over the documents was a good one. The documents may be relevant to a lawsuit, but, more importantly, Kobach is an elected official who oversees voting laws. If he is lobbying to change those laws, he should do so in public. Given that Kobach has been appointed by Trump to be vice chair of a new national commission reviewing voter fraud and voter suppression, it is particularly important for Kobach’s views to be shared publicly.
It is unfortunate Judge Robinson can’t issue another order that would apply to all politicians: Quit the games. Say what is on your mind. Debate the merits of your ideas. Compromise when needed. In other words, be less of a politician and more of a leader.