TOPEKA — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday disruption caused by lawsuits filed by leftist organizations compelled President Donald Trump to collapse a federal voting integrity commission and pass duties to an executive branch agency.
Kobach, who was vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity, said he would serve as an outside adviser to the White House and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as the commission’s task of sorting out the threat of illegal voting was assumed by investigators at DHS.
“I fully back the president’s decision,” Kobach said in an interview. “There were almost a dozen lawsuits filed against the commission.”
Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, said the Trump commission struggled with regulations that meant simple tasks took weeks to complete. DHS officials will be able to perform those activities far quicker, he said.
Ed O’Malley, a Wichita candidate for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, said Kobach ought to accept some responsibility for the commission’s inability to produce meaningful results.
“Once again, Kobach demonstrates he doesn’t know how to lead,” O’Malley said. “I’m sure he will criticize others for the failure of the commission. But, real leaders take responsibility. He failed. Again.”
Kobach said he anticipated DHS would compare state voter registration rolls with federal lists of individuals with temporary visas, green cards or in the process of being deported.
“Once you know that, you can look deeper and see if any of those individuals actually voted,” Kobach said in a separate interview with National Public Radio. “That’s immensely valuable.”
Kobach discounted claims intent of the Trump commission was created to forge a national requirement that voters show a photograph ID when casting a ballot.
“The critics were making a bizarre and, frankly, idiotic argument,” he said. “A commission presenting evidence doesn’t do a Jedi mind-trick and make state legislators in some state suddenly pass a bill.”
Meanwhile, Kobach disclosed Thursday he filed criminal complaints against two people who allegedly cast illegal ballots in Colorado and Kansas during 2016.
Que J. Fulmer and Bailey Ann McCaughey were charged with double voting. Fulmer’s offenses purportedly transpired in Hamilton County, Kan., and the state of Colorado. McCaughey’s offenses allegedly occurred in Finney County and Colorado, Kobach said.
“It does seem to me to be a crime of opportunity,” Kobach said. “These prosecutions will help deter voter fraud in the future.”
Kobach will be drawn into another voting controversy after U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson’s decision to begin the trial in March on a constitutional challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union to voting registration procedures implemented by Kobach.
The ACLU represents Kansans who attempted to register at the state Division of Vehicles, but were asked to provide documentation of U.S. citizenship. ACLU lawyers contend the mandate conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act.
“We look forward to showing yet again how Kobach’s actions undermine voters and are illegal,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
Kobach had a different take: “I think we’ll prevail at the end of the day.”