Government & Politics

Kobach’s campaign paid Kansan known to post racist comments on white nationalist site

Kansas Republican Kris Kobach’s Senate campaign paid an Olathe man who regularly posted hateful comments about Jews and racial minorities on a white nationalist website.

Kobach’s campaign paid Joe Suber $500 for field coordinating services in September, according to the Republican’s latest campaign finance report. Suber also filed the paperwork with the state of Kansas creating the Kobach for Senate campaign as a limited liability company in August.

Suber has a long history of making anti-Semitic and racist comments on The UNZ Review, a website that includes white nationalist and anti-Semitic content. During Kobach’s unsuccessful campaign for governor, Suber regularly heaped praise on the candidate and encouraged other readers of the site to back him.

“I am ready to sign up for the Kobach ethnostate defense force: Kansas, Kobach and Kids,” Suber wrote in June of 2018 in response to a post that referred to unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border as “child-invaders.”

In August 2018, Suber claimed to have canvassed for Kobach’s gubernatorial campaign and derided part of Kansas as “Little Mexico.”

In another post that month, he praised Kobach’s ability to deliver traditional GOP talking points “without pooping on those of us who value the character of Heritage America” and said his only wish was that Kobach would deliver “some louder dog-whistles.”

Kobach repudiated Suber’s comments and said they do not represent his own views in a statement to The Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle.

“Mr. Suber’s comments are abhorrent, and I am personally offended by them. As a Christian, I reject all forms of racism and anti-Semitism,” he said Thursday.

Kobach’s Senate campaign said that Suber was paid for running errands and other small tasks, but that it immediately cut ties with him after discovering his history of racist comments.

“As soon as I became aware of Mr. Suber’s activities and his comments, the campaign severed all ties to him. Kris Kobach doesn’t share Mr. Suber’s views. I deeply regret that I didn’t look into Mr. Suber’s background before permitting him to do volunteer work for the campaign,” Kobach’s campaign manager Steve Drake said in a statement.

“However, it is very difficult to do a thorough background search of every recorded statement and every past activity by each volunteer in a campaign as large as this.”

Alleged racist connections

Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state, launched a campaign in July for U.S. Senate focused on curbing illegal immigration after falling short in his bid for Kansas governor.

The Kansas Republican has been dogged by allegations of connections to extremists for years. It was a concern for Republican National Committee researchers, who identified “White Supremacy” as a potential vulnerability when Kobach was being vetted for a potential role in President Donald Trump’s administration in 2017.

Kobach sought to rebut the perception that he’s aligned with extremists in a video posted to YouTube by his campaign in July. He laid blame for his loss in the race for governor on his media portrayal, which he argued created a false image for Kansans.

“When someone is called a racist, a fascist, even a white nationalist over and over again on a daily basis, even Kansans will eventually doubt themselves and eventually believe what is false. … By the end of the campaign, Democrats and their media allies had convinced many people, even Republicans, that I was an extremist,” Kobach said in the video.

“If I were one, I would tell you. But I am not.”

Despite Kobach’s assurances that he had no connections to extremists, Suber was able to land an official role in his Senate campaign after his previous support for him in the race for governor.

Suber organized Kobach for Senate LLC in August, according to business records from the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. Paperwork establishing the limited liability company lists Suber as the registered agent and his Olathe home address as the official mailing address.

But on Oct. 6, Suber filed a document to cancel the LLC. The paperwork says the company “has dissolved and has wound up its business.”

The next day, however, Suber filed more paperwork. This time he wanted to undo the cancellation of the LLC from the previous day, writing that it was “canceled in error.”

Suber was removed as the registered agent the same day, according to business records. He was replaced by Eric Manda, a Lawrence resident. Kansas campaign finance records show an Eric Manda was paid $800 to be a consultant on Kobach’s gubernatorial campaign in 2018, but no home address is listed.

Kobach’s campaign said that Suber was not authorized to make himself registered agent for the campaign.

‘Some of it might be humor’

Suber was interviewed by reporters from Michigan Live and HuffPost when white nationalist Richard Spencer spoke at Michigan State University last year, identifying himself in those interviews as an Olathe resident.

During an interview on the doorstep of his Olathe home Thursday, Suber called himself “dissident right” and acknowledged attending the Spencer rally. He said he was “trying to find out what was going on in this country.”

“There’s an attack on free speech going on and antifa wants to censor a lot of different people who are trying to make civic points, not crazy people, just people trying to do political speech,” he said. Antifa is the name for a collection of anti-fascist protest groups.

In his comments on The UNZ Review site, Suber regularly praised Spencer and espoused white nationalist talking points.

“Regardless, if the attitudes and elite dominance have infected us all to the point that most of us ‘think jewish’ then what is the timeframe for that to right-itself (pun intended)? Can it happen before we are overrun by the brown footsoldiers?” he wrote in a May 2018 post.

Three months later, Suber claimed that “if we stop forcibly integrating schools, whites will have more babies.”

When other posters on the white nationalist site blasted Kobach for supporting Israel, Suber sought to reassure them.

“Oh and to the anon Semite who is claiming Kobach is a Zionist: If you had been to any evangelical church in the last 20 years you would know the conservative base here isn’t ready for any real talk on the JQ,” Suber wrote.

“JQ” appears to be Suber’s abbreviation for the “Jewish Question,” the anti-Semitic concept that Jews presented a problem for society to solve. It’s the concept that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime used to justify the slaughter of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.

Reporters on Thursday showed Suber copies of comments on The Unz Review. Suber initially wouldn’t say whether he had posted them, but when pressed suggested they had been an attempt at humor.

“Some of it might be humor that’s just lost out of context, maybe wasn’t funny. I don’t know. I’m not going to try to figure it all out right now,” Suber said.

Suber refused to comment on his role in establishing Kobach for Senate LLC. Over the course of about 10 minutes, he threatened to end the interview several times, but kept talking.

“You’re not going to help Kris Kobach and you’re not going to do me any favors. Why am I talking to you?” Suber said.

Suber was arrested on March 2, 2016, in Overland Park and charged the following day with reckless stalking, a misdemeanor and a domestic violence offense.

Court records show that Suber was placed under house arrest for about a month after pleading not guilty to the charge. He later entered into a diversion agreement with the Johnson County District Court.

Suber acknowledged the charge at his home on Thursday, saying it stemmed from “a bad breakup.”

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Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.
Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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