President Donald Trump this week will reportedly launch a commission on voter fraud.
According to ABC News, the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity will be announced this week with Vice President Mike Pence as the chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the vice chair.
Kris Kobach is a highly controversial figure, both due to the actions he has taken as Kansas secretary of state and due to inflammatory comments he has made on talk radio shows. Here’s a look at some of the reasons Kris Kobach has been surrounded by controversy.
1. He Helped Craft the Infamous 2010 Arizona Immigration Law
Kris Kobach helped craft Arizona SB 1070, the infamously strict Arizona immigration law passed in 2010.
This law required Arizona law enforcement officers to attempt to determine a person’s immigration status when stopping them for unrelated reasons if there’s any reasonable suspicion that the person might be undocumented. It also prevented state officers from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws. In addition, the bill required legal immigrants to carry documents verifying their immigration status at all times, and it made it a crime for an undocumented immigrant to seek or hold a job. Finally, under the law, police could arrest a person for suspicion of being undocumented.
In the 2012 Supreme Court case of Arizona v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the part of the law requiring police officers to conduct immigration checks, but it struct down the sections requiring immigrants to carry documents, making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to seek or hold a job, and allowing police to arrest people for suspicion of being undocumented.
According to AZ Central, Kobach was hired to help draft the law and then to help to defend it.
Kobach subsequently helped to draft Alabama HB 56, an Alabama immigration law similar to the Arizona one.
2. He Has Been Responsible for Several Strict Voter ID Laws
In addition to immigration laws, Kris Kobach has also helped draft and implement extremely strict voter ID laws.
As Kansas Secretary of State, he introduced the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, which required newly-registered Kansas voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering. In addition, voters must show photo ID when casting their vote in person, and when voting by mail, they must verify their signature and provide a driver’s license or non-driver ID number.
While secretary of state, Kobach has suspended or canceled more than 30,000 voter registrations because the individuals were not able to prove their citizenship when registering, according to MSNBC. As a result of these voter ID policies, Kobach has faced lawsuits.
Kobach has continued to defend his voter ID laws, saying that the rest of the country should adopt similar measures.
“Every time an alien votes, it cancels out the vote of a United States citizen,” he told Breitbart. “This is a nationwide problem. Every state needs to address it and take steps to secure the most fundamental privilege of citizenship—the vote.”
3. He Speculated That the Obama Administration Would Stop Prosecuting Black People
Kris Kobach has made a number of highly controversial and inflammatory comments, such as when he floated the idea that President Barack Obama and his administration would end the prosecution of black people.
These comments came when Kobach was a guest on a radio show. According to the Kansas City Star, a caller to the show said that he imagined that in the future, no black person would be convicted of any crime. Kobach agreed and said that this isn’t an unreasonable thing to imagine.
“Well, it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Kobach said. “So I guess it’s not a huge jump, I think it’s unlikely, but you know I’ve learned to say with this president, never say never.”
4. He Floated the Idea that Hispanics Might Conduct Ethnic Cleansing in the U.S.
Kris Kobach has also floated the idea that Hispanics might become the majority in the United States and conduct ethnic cleansing.
These comments again came on a radio show. This time, a listener called in and said that when “one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them.”
Kobach again said it’s not unreasonable to think this might happen in the United States and that Hispanic immigrants might conduct ethnic cleansing.
“What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” Kobach said. “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a president who disregards the law when it suits his interests. So, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, things are strange and they are happening.”
5. He Has Repeatedly Made Unsubstantiated Claims of Voter Fraud in the 2016 Election
Kris Kobach has repeatedly made unverified or outright debunked claims of voter fraud, especially as it pertains to the 2016 election.
Kobach has backed up Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that there were millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election and that this could have affected the popular vote outcome.
“If you are looking at the problem of non-citizens voting, we have a lot of evidence there too,” he told Fox Business. “In Kansas because we are litigating over our proof of citizenship requirement, we have an expert who has analyzed our voter rolls and thinks as many as eighteen thousand non-citizens could be on the rolls and many of them voting.”
Kobach also said that we can’t know whether the popular vote outcome was changed by illegal voting, “but it’s certainly possible.” He is suggesting that three million illegal votes may have been cast in the election, something there is not any evidence of.
In February 2017, Kobach was a guest on CNN and was asked for proof of widespread voter fraud. He could’t provide any, simply pointing to examples of people being registered in more than one state or individual instances of voter fraud but not any evidence of it happening on a massive scale as Donald Trump has suggested.