A federal judge has affirmed a $1,000 fine levied on Kris Kobach, charging that the Kansas secretary of state has taken actions that “have called his credibility into question.”
U.S. Judge Julie Robinson wrote Tuesday that the fine will help “deter [Kobach] from misleading the court” going forward.
Kobach (pictured) has made headlines lately as the vice chair and de facto leader of the White House’s controversial commission on voting, which many see as an effort to lay the groundwork for new voting restrictions. But the judicial rebuke came in a long-running case involving a challenge to a 2011 Kansas law, championed by Kobach, requiring that voter registrants provide documentary proof of citizenship. The ACLU argues that the law violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which aims to make registration as easy as possible.
The fine against Kobach was originally issued last month by U.S. Magistrate James O’Hara, who accused the hard-charging elections official of making “patently misleading representations” to the court. O’Hara wrote that Kobach had suggested documents he was photographed holding last year don’t relate to proposals to make changes to the NVRA, but that upon reviewing the documents, O’Hara had learned that this was false. The ACLU is seeking to make the documents public.
O’Hara’s order was significant for providing additional evidence that Kobach intends to use the White House voting commission to push for a weakening of the NVRA. Last week, an email exchange made public in the case revealed Kobach telling a member of the Trump transition team the day after the November election that he had already begun drafting changes to the NVRA “to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted.”
In her order Tuesday, Robinson wrote that the NVRA documents aren’t the only subject on which Kobach has been deceptive during the case, listing what she said were several other instances.
“These examples…demonstrate a pattern, which gives further credence to Judge O’Hara’s conclusion that a sanctions award is necessary to deter defense counsel in this case from misleading the Court about the facts and record in the future,” Robinson wrote.
Meanwhile, in his role leading the White House commission, Kobach’s two requests for state voter data have spurred widespread anger and legal opposition.