The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

What’s the Matter with Working for Kansas, Kris?

By Heidi Beirich on March 19, 2012 - 3:25 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Anti-immigrant activist Kris Kobach draws a paycheck as the duly elected secretary of state in Kansas. But he sure spends a lot of time meddling in the business of other states.

Kansans Count, a coalition of civil and voting rights groups, recently obtained copies of Kobach’s calendars, schedules and phone records through an open records request. The group found that, since he took office in January 2011, Kobach has participated in 108 media appearances with out-of-state media outlets – most of which had to do with immigration, not Kansas.

The group said the study was prompted by Kobach’s failure to do the work necessary to implement the strict voter ID law he pushed.

The findings were no surprise to those who follow Kobach’s activism: He’s spending his time in other states defending anti-immigrant laws that he has promoted.

“What we found in our findings with Mr. Kobach’s calendar is that he is not making our elections a priority,” Louis Goseland, coordinator for KanVote. “Instead, what he’s made a priority is establishing his political identity as a man who is tough on immigration. Well, immigration is not his responsibility. His responsibility is to make sure that our elections run smoothly, safely and fairly and that the people of Kansas can access the polls and so far, he’s failing to do that job.”

Goseland was referring to Kobach’s role as the principal author of punishing anti-immigrant legislation that has proliferated at the state and local level. In addition to being Kansas’ secretary of state, Kobach is “of counsel” for the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists FAIR as a hate group because it has done more to inject fear and bigotry into the national immigration debate than any other organization (For more on FAIR’s demonizing anti-Latino propaganda and its ties to hate groups, read here).

Kobach has long defended his immigration work as taking place during his spare time. He told Topeka TV station WIBW that media questions about immigration pop up during interviews about Kansas’ voting policies and a number of other issues. Kobach regularly pleads ignorance about FAIR’s sordid history.

Kobach authored Arizona’s punishing SB 1070, which is currently on its way to a Supreme Court hearing in April. He has also worked on local laws in several other communities, including Hazelton, Pa., and Farmers Branch, Texas. In general, Kobach’s efforts have been financially damaging, draining communities of resources to pay for legal battles, where Kobach is often the lead lawyer. One community, faced with skyrocketing legal costs, had to raise property taxes; another was forced to cut personnel and special events and even outsource its library. Many of the communities Kobach has been involved in have also seen increased racial strife and other negative effects. Latinos reported being threatened, shot at, subjected to racial taunts and more.

If only Kobach could focus on his secretary of state duties in Kansas and leave the rest of us alone. In his “spare time,” he’s done a number on my home state of Alabama. As the author of HB 56, which Kobach reportedly wrote while sitting in a duck blind, he has wreaked havoc in my state. The punishing anti-immigrant law has led to major civil right violations for residents of Alabama, examples of which can be found here. The financial pain will be immense, too.

All of this makes me wonder, what’s so wrong with Kobach working for the people who elected him, meaning the people of Kansas? We certainly don’t need any more of him here in Alabama. And I bet that feeling is widely shared in other states that are now suffering after adopting his misguided legislative ideas.

  • CM

    RRoberts,

    That’s okay, I have trouble following yours. We obviously have very different worldviews, which is a major reason why so many of us lapse into conflict instead of discussion. Another reason is that too many of us just want to win the argument, whatever it takes. When that happens, the dichotomy of winning/losing becomes more important than those of true/false or right/wrong.

    That’s where the hypocrisy sneaks in: People say whatever they think will win the debating point at that moment, even if it contradicts everything they’ve proclaimed before, even if it contradicts everything they think they know, even if it contradicts everything they truly value.

    I’m not saying that you personally are guilty of those things. But you might want to ask yourself if it’s true of the people you’re relying on for your “information.”

  • Norio

    Thank goodness for people like Kris Kobach! There are many misguided Hispanics/Latinos who are upset with Obama and want to vote Republican. But as long as there is hateful slime like Kobach, this scenario becomes less likely. Like it or not, the Hispanic/Latino vote is going to determine who wins the next presidential election, and with help from Kobach et al., Obama will win.

  • RRoberts

    Once again, the fantastic liberals on and at SPLC do nothing but condemn a conflicting opinion.

    Regarding attorneys defending Al Quaeda, there have been a number of them and they have never been condemned by SPLC. Check out the John ADams Project at the ACLU.

    To CM, I appreciate your thoughts. I try not to be a hypocrite, and frankly, i have trouble following your arguments.

  • Tamir

    He is also very politically active which is not a desirable trait for a state elections official.

  • FLOERNTINOI CAMAHCO JR.

    KRIS KOBACH IS NOT GIVING THE KANSAS TAXPAYERS THIER MONEY WORTH!WHEN HE LOSES HE PLAYS TRICKS WITH THE LAW SO HE CAN WIN!

    HE WANTS A HIGHER POSTION IN WASHINGTON D.C.THE $87,000 A YEAR IS NOT ENOUGH FOR HIM.

    HE HAS LEFT CITY AFTER CITY IN RUINS AFTER HIS HATEFUL AND RACITS LAWS IN OTHERS STATES.
    HE TELLS PEOPLE HE IS PRO-LIFE BUT ATTACKS CHILDERN AND WOMEN WHO ARE HUMAN-BEINGS FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL GAIN .

  • ruben

    hate on the left is the same as hate on the right!….and the person masquerading as shadow wolf is exhibit A!….this person never misses a chance to dish out his hatred towards people of mexican decent…..and this fool has the nerve to call kkkris kkkobach…..this wolf person is always crying on here how he/she is on the right side of tolerance when in fact he/she is just a “two faced bigoted hater himself/herself”…..this person used to post on here under a different name but it did not allow him/her to post there real bigoted side……you are a charlatan and a fraud you can stop your charade.

  • CM

    Aron,

    Thanks for the compliment, but more importantly, thanks for all your contributions to these discussions. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I do believe that all of us usual suspects here (and I want to mention especially Ruslan and Reynardine) have some kind of stubborn unwillingness to let untruth go unanswered. I’m here because I admire anyone who stands up against hatred and violence, and that’s what I believe the SPLC is all about.

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    CM,

    Brilliantly said. Hear, hear!

    *applause*

  • CM

    RRoberts wrote:

    “To condemn the man because he has represented what the SPLC calls Hate Groups does not change my comment.”

    Well, it certainly does nothing to remove the illogic and hypocrisy from your comments.

    If I may recap, your initial line of attack on this blog post was to claim that it was merely an attempt by the SPLC to stop an individual from exercising his Constitutional right to express an opinion. This was, of course, totally specious: In fact, the post simply called attention to the fact that a high official of a state government was working actively to promote the agenda of a hate group.

    Now you want to divert attention to a different issue, suggesting that Kobach is simply providing FAIR with the legal representation to which it is entitled. As several others have already noted, this is also specious; Kobach’s work for FAIR is that of a lobbyist and activist — again, the promotion of an agenda of hate.

    You could try arguing that FAIR’s listing as a hate group by the SPLC is erroneous. This argument would at least have some logical validity, though I believe it would ultimately fail because of FAIR’s well-documented history of propagating damnable lies in an effort to stir up irrational hostility toward immigrants.

    However, even if you could prevail on this point, while it would suggest that Kobach’s activities were not relevant to the SPLC’s core mission, it would leave untouched some areas of legitimate concern, principally for the people of Kansas — areas that speak to the issue of hypocrisy I raised before.

    Even if Kobach were not devoting his attention and time to furthering the cause of a hate group, his devotion to a national lobbying and legislative effort would be troubling because it raises questions about whether he is adequately fulfilling the duties of the office to which he was appointed and for which he receives a fairly generous salary from Kansas taxpayers.

    When Tim Kaine was governor of Virginia and at the same time chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Republicans constantly criticized him for spending too much time out of state and paying too much attention to national political issues. I believe those criticisms were not entirely unreasonable.

    At a time when federal and state lawmakers are constantly harping about the need for fiscal austerity — and state and local governments have been forced as a result to slash their budgets and payrolls — and when conservative legislators and leaders continually cry about the need for greater efficiency, productivity and accountability, it is certainly not unreasonable to demand that a cabinet-level state government official concentrate on doing the actual job he’s being paid for.

    At a minimum, if I were a Kansas taxpayer, I would be demanding that Kobach and his office be audited to make sure they aren’t diverting Kansas taxes and resources into Kobach’s personal causes.

    Would you try to justify the misuse of taxpayer resources by a mid-level school administrator who was using the office copier to print fliers for his church’s bake sale? Is it any less a theft from taxpayers if the same sort of thing is done on a potentially larger scale by a cabinet-level official? Even one whose views on politics and social issues agree with yours?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    ” Hate on the left is the same as hate on the right!

    Does the SPLC likewise condemn those attorneys who represent Al Quaeda terrorists. No.”

    Let’s see some examples? Al Qaeda is a right-wing group.

  • Gregory

    RRoberts, I think you are confusing the right of the accused to counsel with an attorney’s choice of clients crafting legislation. I hope you can tell the difference.

  • Shadow Wolf

    “Hate on the left is the same as hate on the right!”

    Can you give us some examples of the hate espoused from the left? I would like you to point out a known left leaning organization that promotes a certain hatred doctrine. I know the racist “La Raza” is one prime example, which may espouse some “anti-American rhetoric”. But what other organization can you cite, that according to you–is classified as the same hate as in the WN?

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    RRoberts,

    The difference is that those defense attorneys are not trying to pervert national laws for their own gain. That’s what Kobach and his clients are doing.

    Face it.

  • RRoberts

    CM: I believe everyone has the right to legal representation. To condemn the man because he has represented what the SPLC calls Hate Groups does not change my comment.

    Yes, you personally have a right to condemn him for the groups he represents as well as the way he brushes his teeth.

    However, the SPLC objective for which it solicits tax exempt donations is to ‘stop hate.’ My point has always been, that if you want to stop hate, then you need to look at all ‘haters’ in the same light. Hate on the left is the same as hate on the right!

    Does the SPLC likewise condemn those attorneys who represent Al Quaeda terrorists. No.

  • Reynardine

    States and municipalities do not have the power to declare anyone an “illegal immigrant”, a finding that can be made only by a federal tribunal of competent jurisdiction. Someone who is factually an immigrant may lack some document the state demands, and yet be legal; someone born in this country may be deemed an “illegal immigrant” by state or local officials demanding affirmative proof from whoever doesn’t “look American”(the constant challenging of the President’s citizen birth by every podunk sheriff and tin-horn rich bitch is just a nuisance for him, but would be a lot more serious for people less well-placed). Potentially, anyone could be disenfranchised by being constantly required to rebut a negative pregnant. There is a damn good reason to require that any challenge to citizenship be carried out under federal jurisdiction subject to established standards of proof, and the last thing we need is fifty different states arrogating this power of a sovereign nation to themselves.

  • Gregory

    RRoberts, my “assumptions” about you are based solely on what you’ve written here. I “assume” you’ve done the same with mine.

  • CM

    RRoberts and eh:

    You both seem to have missed the part about how Kobach’s “moonlighting” gig includes working as an attorney for a known hate group. Yes, he has a right to do such work if he wants, and everyone else has a right to condemn him for it. Would either of you like to confess to deliberately missing the point?

  • RRoberts

    To Gregory: Why do you assume I agree with this gentleman. I merely pointed out that SPLC seems to be attacking him only because they disagree with him. He seems to be working within the law. Where does this attack fit their charitable purpose. Perhaps they need to change to a lobbying organization.

  • ModerateMike

    “Do you think Americans have the right to enact immigration laws?” Yes, via their elected representatives in the federal government. But many Americans have come to believe that merely being impatient or dissatisfied with federal laws gives them the right to enact state or local “immigration” legislation that has nothing to do with the fundamental question of whether or not a person may remain in the country. Take the matter up with your reps in the U.S. Congress, and be willing to consider amnesty if you want results.

    “And to elect politicians who will work to see that they are enforced?” Yes, and they have that in President Obama. Huge numbers of immigrants have been deported during his administration; approximately 396,000 were ejected in fiscal 2011, up from 390,000 in 2010. Never mind that with them went the sales and consumption tax revenue that their patronage of businesses previously generated, nor the fact that many of those deported were brought to the country as infants…but nonetheless, the President is doing his duty as you believe he should.

    “Is there something wrong with that?

    Not if you ask the question in a vacuum, but we don’t live in a vacuum. You could say, “Well, it’s not my fault that those people sneaked into the country,” but that in no way exempts us from the consequences of throwing out paying customers, breaking up families, and inflaming racial/ethnic tensions.

    And whether or not you want to label this article as a “smear” is less important than whether or not its information is accurate. Mr. Kobach’s affiliation with FAIR, and the anti-Latino bias of legislation such as that in Alabama, have been well-documented by SPLC. Check out the information before condemning it.

  • Gregory

    Ooops, forgot to close the /snark tag and finish the comment. It remains to be seen if the Tea Partiers and other small government kooks will be asking why this man is getting paid by Kansas to pander to the likes of RRoberts.

  • Shadow Wolf

    eh,
    Are you aware that there is nothing in the provisions of SB107 that applies “sanctions against employers”? The Bill itself doesn’t specifically target employers.

    The backlash for SB1070 is that it does absolutely nothing to secure the border. There is nothing in the provision, that warrants it.

    Instead, the main gist of SB1070, is used as a font for LEOs(mainly the MCSO goons) to engage in “racial profiling” of anyone who “looks Mexican” or speaks Spanish etc. Yes–Natives Indigenous to the southwest are also included in it’s racial stereotypes.

  • eh

    Actually, Kobach — a man whom I’m not altogether familiar with — has undertaken initiatives in two general areas: 1) attacking in-state tuition granted to illegal aliens, and 2) against illegal immigration generally, including sanctions against employers — e.g. SB 1070 in AZ.

    Curious that the SPLC has filed this post under “Anti-Immigrant” without ever mentioning the illegal aspect — in fact, the word “illegal” does not appear in the article. Do you think Americans have the right to enact immigration laws? And to elect politicians who will work to see that they are enforced? Is there something wrong with that?

    Also, presumably Mr Kobach has the right to free association, and to spend his time as he sees fit. I would say it is up to the governor and the people of Kansas to decide if he is doing his job properly (he was elected by a wide margin).

    This whole post is just a silly, childish attempt to smear Mr Kobach. Shameful, really.

  • Shadow Wolf

    KKKris KKKobach, leaving a trail of financial ruin in his wake. The man is surely toxic.

    Regarding the abhorrent SB1070. Sock puppet AZ Gov. Jan Brewer had declined to speak before a subcommittee the day before it’s Supreme Court hearings. If one is familiar with Brewer, it’s to protect herself from exposing the world how ignorant she is on the same subject.

    Instead, neo-Nazi hugging ousted Senator Russell Pearce(co-author of SB1070) will gladly testify before the subcommittee. Speaking of the 12 point loser [in the recall]–Russell Pearce, the old grunt has announced this past Monday that he’ll be running for Senate in LD25 in Mesa.

    Sounds like the old demon has return to avenge his loss.

  • Gregory

    With apologies to Monty Python, he is arguing in his spare time.

  • RRoberts

    What does this item have to do with tracking hate groups? You are only trying to attack a person with whom you disagree.

  • Reynardine

    Somehow, I thought public officials weren’t supposed to moonlight like that.

  • Charley

    Evil man.