Government & Politics

House agrees: No tax dollars for Kobach to spend for being found in contempt of court

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach File photo

A move by a Kansas House Republican would keep GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach from using state money to pay for being found in contempt of court.

Kobach, who is running for governor, was found in contempt of court by a federal judge earlier this month.

The legislation was offered by Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin. He said the move would prohibit using any state money for defense or penalties involved in a finding of a contempt of court by statewide elected officials. That would include the governor and the secretary of state.

"You pay your own bills if you get yourself in that kind of trouble," Jennings said.

The change passed, 103-16. The overall budget bill that includes the prohibition is still a ways from making it to Gov. Jeff Colyer's desk.

Kobach has earned national name recognition because of his work for President Donald Trump. But many of his recent efforts have become fodder for critics.

Trump disbanded a commission led by Kobach that was intended to investigate voter fraud after criticism from across the political spectrum. Kobach was then scolded in federal court as he defended Kansas' strict voting laws, and last week he was found in contempt of court.

The judge ordered Kobach to pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs in the case. He could face additional fines after the judge makes her final ruling in the overall case. Kobach's office said last week that it plans to appeal.

Kobach was on Jennings' mind when it came to this change.

"I'm sick of reading about our state level, statewide elected official being in court for contempt," Jennings said. "...We're not paying the bill for him."

Moriah Day, Kobach's spokesman, was critical of the lawmakers decision.

"The proviso is legally flawed because the state office is the defendant in the case and it was the office that was held in civil contempt, not the individual holding the office," he said in a text message.