Less than a day after President Donald Trump dismantled his voter fraud commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has filed criminal charges against two people he says voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor who had served as the commission’s vice chair, obtained prosecutorial power in 2015 and is the only secretary of state in the nation with such authority.
He has filed charges against 15 people since then for a variety of election crimes, resulting in nine convictions or plea deals and one dismissal. The remaining five cases, including the charges announced Thursday, remain pending.
Most of those cases have involved U.S. citizens who have allegedly voted in more than one jurisdiction rather than non-citizens, despite Kobach’s claims that hundreds of non-citizens are on the voter rolls.
Kobach’s office charged Que J. Fullmer, 67, with two counts of voting without being qualified, one count of voting more than once and one count of “advance voting unlawful acts” for allegedly casting ballots in both Colorado and Hamilton County, Kan., in 2016.
Bailey Ann McCaughey, 20, also faces one count of election perjury and one count of voting more than once for allegedly voting in both Colorado and Finney County, Kan., in 2016, according to the release from Kobach’s office.
“These prosecutions will help deter voter fraud in the future,” Kobach said in a statement.
Both Fullmer and McCaughey appear to be registered Republicans.
The charges come on heels of Trump’s decision to disband a voter fraud commission for which Kobach had served as vice chairman. The commission had faced multiple lawsuits and resistance from numerous states after Kobach’s request for personal information on every U.S. voter.
Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without proof that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in 2016, shifted the duty of investigating voter fraud to the Department of Homeland Security as part of his order ending the commission.
Kobach told The Star Wednesday that he will be in close contact with the agency, which will search for non-citizens on the voter rolls.
Kobach’s work on the commission has been heavily criticized by both voting rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers in Kansas.
Rep. Brett Parker, an Overland Park Democrat, called the money spent on the commission a waste and predicted that the backlash against it would hurt Kobach’s campaign for governor.
“The more public exposure he gets, the less compelling of a candidate for office he becomes,” Parker said Wednesday.
Dale Ho, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, said in an email Wednesday that Kobach had failed to run the commission in a transparent manner.
Ho and other voting rights advocates had repeatedly warned that the commission’s purpose was to promote new restrictions to voting, such as the Kansas law requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship, a measure Kobach championed that is being challenged in federal court by the ACLU.
“Even after being admonished by a federal judge last week for failing to comply with transparency laws, the Commission was planning a meeting this month but hadn’t notified at least 2 Commissioners about it, who learned about the meeting from media reports,” Ho said. “Kobach’s repeated the refusal to operate openly and transparently spoke volumes about his intentions.”
Former state Rep. Ed O'Malley, one of the Republicans running for governor, blasted Kobach in a statement Thursday for costing taxpayers money.
“You cannot waste millions in tax dollars in one breath and claim the mantle of fiscal conservatism in the next. With his record, Kansans should be wary of what he would do in Topeka,” O’Malley said.
“The bottom line is if voter fraud is a major problem and Kris Kobach spearheaded this effort, he failed to bring the commission together to produce meaningful and measurable outcomes, which means the problem will continue.”
The Star’s Hunter Woodall contributed to this report.