TOPEKA – Kansas taxpayers footed the bill for more than $34,000 in legal fees to defend Secretary of State Kris Kobach against a lawsuit filed by Democrat Chad Taylor after Taylor withdrew from the U.S. Senate race, according to records provided by the state attorney general’s office.
Kobach, who ruled that Taylor would remain on the November ballot because he failed to explicitly declare himself incapable to serve, said that’s a fairly small amount of money to defend a lawsuit, The Wichita Eagle reported.
The state paid Wichita-based Hinkle Law Firm $34,627.57 to defend Kobach in that lawsuit and represent him in a separate action in which the state intervened to force the Democratic Party to name a replacement candidate. That suit failed and Kobach’s motion to intervene was thrown out by a Shawnee County District Court judge.
“For complex litigation and the amount of hours that were spent in a very short amount of time, the price tag for the legal assistance we have here is very reasonable,” said Kobach, who is an attorney. “In litigation terms, that’s actually not a huge amount of money. That’s pretty much par for the course.”
The Kansas Supreme Court rejected Kobach’s argument and ruled that Taylor’s name be struck from the ballot.
That decision was a boost to independent Greg Orman in the tight race against U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. Taylor had accused Kobach of trying to keep him on the ballot as a way to help Roberts by splitting the anti-incumbent vote.
The Kansas Democratic Party criticized Kobach over the cost to taxpayers.
“Kris Kobach turned the Secretary of State’s office into his own personal, political pulpit the moment he was elected,” said Jason Perkey, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party.
Perkey was a named defendant in the second case, and he said the party had about $4,600 in legal fees.
Kobach insists he was right in his determination that Taylor should have remained on the ballot. He said every lawyer in the secretary of state and attorney general’s offices agreed with his interpretation.
He said the Supreme Court gave a “strange and unexpected reading to the law.”
“I think definitely the Supreme Court erred, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way in hopes that the Supreme Court would correctly interpret that law,” Kobach said.