prosecutorial power

Kansas, Like Only Kansas Can Do

In this May 3, 2010 photo, attorney Kris Kobach poses for a photo in Kansas City, Mo. When politicians and police across the county want to crack down on illegal immigration, they often reach out to Kobach, a little-known Kansas attorney with an Ivy League education who is the architect behind many of the nation's most controversial immigration laws. Kobach helps draft proposed laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. His most recent project was advising Arizona officials on a new law that empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Do we really have to re-introduce the one and only Kris Kobach? You know, the Kansas Secretary of State who consults around the country on development of anti-immigration and vote-fraud laws? The Birther who threatened to keep President Obama off the 2012 ballot in the Sunflower State?

Right. That one.

During last year’s election, the Kansas Secretary of State chastised U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, complaining to the media that Kobach’s office had referred examples of voter fraud to the Kansas-based federal prosecutor, but Grissom has refused to prosecute. Worse, Kobach said the U.S. Attorney didn’t “know what he’s talking about” when Grissom said voter fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.

The AP reports today that when Kobach made these claims, he appears to have been brazenly lying (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).

[I]n a Nov. 6 letter sent from Grissom to Kobach and obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request, the prosecutor responded that his office received no such referrals from Kobach, and chided the secretary of state for his statements.

“Going forward, if your office determines there has been an act of voter fraud please forward the matter to me for investigation and prosecution,” Grissom wrote. “Until then, so we can avoid misstatements of facts for the future, for the record, we have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years. And, I can assure you, I do know what I’m talking about.”

Wait, it gets worse.

Kobach now concedes that when he said he’d referred voter-fraud cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office, he had not, in reality, referred voter-fraud cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office. But, the right-wing official told the AP, Kobach’s predecessor had alerted the federal prosecutor to two relevant cases and Grissom ignored those referrals.

It turns out, that’s not true, either: federal investigators looked into those 2011 allegations and, as the AP report noted, they concluded they were not voter fraud.

Or so explains the inimitable Steve Benen, whose narrative is as compelling as always. It is drawn from an Associated Press article, which for its own part explains:

Grissom told the AP last week that Kobach never replied to his letter.

“We want to uphold the integrity of the voting system and people’s ability to exercise their right and have their voice heard as part of the process,” Grissom said. “And we have the ability, we have the resources, to prosecute any case in which someone believes there has been any voter fraud or voter misrepresentation.”

Kobach acknowledged in an email to the AP last week that his office never has sent suspected voter fraud cases to Grissom, citing instead what he said was inaction on cases referred by his predecessor.

Grissom said the FBI determined two cases referred before Kobach took office in January 2011 were not voter fraud.

Kobach said last week that his office “felt it would be more productive to refer cases first to Kansas county attorneys rather than sending them first to Mr. Grissom’s office.”

“That is the approach we have taken for the last few years,” he said.

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