A national group of civil rights attorneys says that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach may have violated a federal law by promoting his work on President Donald Trump’s voter commission on his campaign website.
The Lawyers’ Committee Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit group founded in 1963 at the request of President John Kennedy as a way to safeguard civil rights, filed a Hatch Act complaint against Kobach on Monday with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent watchdog within the federal government.
The Hatch Act is a federal law meant to prevent politicking by most executive branch employees during the course of their official duties.
Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor in 2018, serves as vice chairman of Trump’s commission on election integrity, a position that is unpaid. The commission has faced national controversy in recent days over Kobach’s extensive request for voter data from states.
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Kristen Clarke, the committee’s president and executive director, said in a statement that Kobach “appears to be using his official role as head of the so-called Election Integrity Commission to promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas.”
Kobacch’s office rejected the accusation.
“We are certain that no Hatch Act violations have occurred. This is nothing but a bunch of liberal lawyers trying to create a story,” said Samantha Poetter, Kobach’s spokeswoman, in an email.
The committee pointed to Kobach’s promotion of television appearances related to his role on the commission on his Facebook and Twitter pages, which are run by his campaign, and on his official campaign website.
The committee also noted that Kobach’s campaign site touts that “President Trump knows there is no greater leader on these issues, which is why he named Kris to serve as the Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.”
The group also noted that Kobach has discussed both his run for governor and his role on the commission in media appearances, including on a June episode of the Star’s Beer Hour, a Facebook Live program.