Kris Kobach found in contempt for disobeying court orders

Federal judge ruled Kobach repeatedly acted "disingenuously" and failed to notify Kansans about their registration

Published April 19, 2018 9:13AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped lead President Donald Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission, was found in contempt of court after failing to comply with a federal judge's orders to notify thousands of residents that they had been registered to vote.

In a scathing ruling, U.S.District Judge Julie Robinson wrote twice that Kobach acted "disingenuously" and that she found "clear and convincing evidence" he disobeyed the court order, according to The Washington Post.

The order came as a result of a 2016 lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued Kansas based on a 2013 voter ID law that "requires people to provide proof of citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate, when they registered to vote for the first time," the Post reported. Robinson blocked the law with a preliminary injunction in 2016 and ordered Kobach to notify "some 18,000" voters via a postcard with their registration and polling information.

The ACLU argued that Kobach, who is a GOP candidate for governor in Kansas, disobeyed the order and that voters had not received the postcard or any other information in regards to their voting status.

"Kansans have come to expect these postcards to confirm their registration status, and Defendant ensured the Court on the record that they had been sent prior to the 2016 general election,” Robinson wrote in her ruling, according to the Post. "They were not, and the fact that he sent a different notice to those voters does not wholly remove the contempt."

She added that Kobach "willfully failed to make sure that the county election officials were clearly and effectively trained to enforce" the rules of the injunction.

"The official training manual for the counties continued to instruct that all voter registration applicants were required to submit DPOC [documented proof of citizenship] and his efforts to revise these instructions informally and in a piecemeal way led to confusion and misinformation," Robinson wrote.

As a result of the contempt ruling, Kobach was ordered to pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs in the case.

Kobach, who is a close ally of the president, has a well documented track record of attempting to suppress voters with strict ID laws. Last year, while Kobach served as the vice chair of Trump's now-dismantled Election Integrity Commission, he was fined for "misleading the court" in voter ID cases.

Trump's so-called voter fraud commission was actually stacked with architects of voter suppression laws and echoed Trump's claim that 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, an assertion the commission said it had evidence to prove, but was later unable to. The voter fraud commission also flagged Texans with Hispanic surnames, and experts have warned the commission failed to keep the safety of millions of peoples' data safe. Kobach is also a paid Breitbart News columnist, where he's written about his hardline anti-immigration views.

By Charlie May

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