8 Things To Know About The Kansas Official Backing Trump’s False Voter Fraud Claims

Jan 25, 2017

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State (file photo)
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Reacting to several of his own false claims of voter fraud, President Donald Trump on Wednesday pushed it further, asking for a “major investigation” into unsubstantiated claims that some three million people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton.

Few Republicans or even his staff support Trump’s insistence on voting irregularities, but he does have one backer: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach told the Wichita Eagle on Wednesday that he encouraged Trump to pursue an investigation.

Here are eight things you need to know about Kobach:

1. Kobach was apparently behind Trump’s first false statement alleging voter fraud after the election. On Nov. 27, Trump inaccurately tweeted that he had won the Electoral College in a “landslide” and that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor, told ABC News on Dec. 2 that Kobach was Trump’s source.

“The President-elect has been talking to different people, including Kris Kobach of Kansas about voting irregularities or the number of illegal votes that may have been cast and I believe that he bases his information on that,” Conway said.

2. Kobach is also well-known for making baseless claims of mass voter fraud by “aliens” and gained national attention for his aggressive stance on illegal immigration. He was behind Arizona’s SB1070, the now-defunct “papers please” law that required police officers to demand documentation of those suspected of being in the country illegally. And he has ties to white supremacist movements, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

3. Kobach advised Trump during the campaign and wanted a job in the administration. He met twice with Trump before the inauguration and was mocked by late-night hosts when his Department of Homeland Security plan, which called for reinstatement of a so-called “Muslim registry,” was caught by photographers. The last line appeared to read "Stop Aliens From Voting." He didn’t get the job – Trump nominated retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly for DHS and he’s since been confirmed.

4. Kobach’s justification for his claim that millions allegedly voted illegally includes a well-criticized study and some jumps in mathematical logic, as has been reported on KCUR.

The survey of 339 self-reported non-citizens found 11 percent had voted. Kobach multiplied the number of non-citizens in the U.S., about 28 million, by 11 percent to conclude millions of illegal votes were cast.

"We don't have a hard number, because it's impossible to get that hard number. We can estimate that the same percentage probably voted in 2016. That gives us 3.2 million aliens," Kobach said.

5. Kobach is the only secretary of state in the country with prosecutorial powers, which the Kansas Legislature gave him in 2015 to pursue voter fraud allegations.

6. Despite his ability to bring cases and his many claims of massive voter fraud in the U.S., Kobach’s record on finding it is thin. Kobach has so far filed nine cases of alleged double voting and has won six misdemeanor convictions. Those convicted were mostly older, white Republican men who say they mistakenly voted in two states.

7. Kobach has not charged any non-citizens with voter fraud. Kobach pushed for a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration and a challenge to that law is in federal court. Separately, he is seeking a so-called two-tier system – which would still require voter identification in state races – this legislative season.

8. Kobach also supports Trump’s call for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Peggy Lowe is investigations editor for KCUR and Harvest Public Media. She can be found on Twitter @peggyllowe.