Government & Politics

Kobach says he turned down White House job

Kris Kobach says he was offered two positions in the Trump administration

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that he was offered two positions in President Donald Trump's administration but turned them both down. He announced that he's running for Kansas governor.
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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that he was offered two positions in President Donald Trump's administration but turned them both down. He announced that he's running for Kansas governor.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that he turned down two offers to work in President Donald Trump’s administration in order to remain in Kansas.

Kobach said that he had been offered two positions, one in the White House and another in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, during an appearance on the Star’s Facebook Live show “Beer Hour.”

“It was a really tough choice,” Kobach said hours after he declared his candidacy for governor. “I mean, that’s a big deal getting to be invited by the president to work for his administration, but finally I decided that, no, I wanted to stay in Kansas and consider running for governor.”

The White House did not immediately comment.

Kobach advised Trump on immigration policy throughout the campaign and served on his transition team. Speculation that he could land a role in the administration mounted after he was photographed walking into a meeting with Trump in November carrying a strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that the White House had wanted Kobach for the No. 2 position in Homeland Security, but that DHS Secretary John Kelly opposed his appointment.

Trump did eventually appoint Kobach to serve as vice chairman of a special commission to study voter fraud, a position that is part-time and unpaid.

Kobach framed his decision to turn down the administration jobs from a belief that he could do more in Kansas, indicating that the positions may not have been high-level enough to lure him to Washington from Kansas.

“I love it here. There are not many other places that would be comparable. To me this is the No. 1 place to live. And I have five kids and we love where we live and so to move to Washington would’ve been a sacrifice,” Kobach said. “And it would’ve been worth it if I felt like the position would be one where I felt I could just really move the ball, make a big difference and my being in that position would be really important for the country and how much we could do.

“On the other hand, if I stayed it’d be a lot easier for my family and I started seeing more and more with what’s happening in Topeka…that I could make a bigger difference in Kansas than I could working in the Trump administration.”

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3

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