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Trump’s voter suppression guru made big bucks by ripping off small towns

Kris Kobach, who led Trump’s voter suppression efforts, bilked multiple small towns out of money while pursuing legally unsound immigration ordinances that cost them millions.

By Oliver Willis - August 01, 2018
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Trump with his leading voter suppression expert, Kris Kobach
Trump with his leading voter suppression expert, Kris Kobach

Kris Kobach, the current secretary of state of Kansas who is also running for governor, led a scheme that bilked small towns out of thousands of dollars — all of which went to Kobach’s personal bank account.

Nationwide, Kobach is most prominently known as the ringleader of the Trump administration’s attempts to disenfranchise Democratic voters under the false pretense of preventing voter fraud.

A joint investigation by ProPublica and the Kansas City Star uncovered Kobach’s scheme — which sounds like a real-life version of “The Music Man,” if Harold Hill were an unscrupulous political consultant.

Kobach repeatedly visited small towns and convinced local officials that they should implement anti-immigrant ordinances. He would then offer to consult with the officials to put these ordinances together, which of course meant paying Kobach a consultation fee.

Kobach would assure the officials that the ordinances were on solid legal ground — but the towns often ended up forced to defend the sham laws in costly legal cases, some of which cost millions of dollars.

Having pocketed his fees, Kobach would then move on to another town to do it all over again.

Grant Park, former mayor of Valley Park, Missouri (population 6,911), told ProPublica and the Kansas City Star that Kobach was engaged in the equivalent of “ambulance chasing.”

He told them Kobach’s approach was, “Let’s drum up an immigration problem and maybe I can advance my political position, my political thinking and maybe make some money at the same time.”

Towns that took up Kobach’s business were left with massive legal bills. Farmer’s Branch, Texas owed $7 million. Hazelton, Pennsylvania had to pay out $1.4 million and filed for a state bailout. Fremont, Nebraska had to raise property taxes to pay off Kobach.

None of the towns still enforce the laws Kobach helped to create.

Over 13 years of running his operation, Kobach took home over $800,000, at least $150,000 of which was paid while he served as Kansas secretary of state.

Kobach also used the publicity generated by the immigration campaign to run for his current office, as well as in his current campaign for governor.

His role on Trump’s bogus “Election Integrity Commission” was also based in part on the publicity he earned from his scam.

Kobach has been repeatedly laughed out of court, and the exposure of his confidence game reveals the shaky legal ground his entire career has been based on.

That Kobach was elevated by Trump to attack voters, and that he continues to be a viable Republican candidate, speaks volumes about the conservative movement’s disconnect from reality.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 


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