Editorials

Kris Kobach’s latest mess: Missing ammo and the FBI. Why did Kansas ever elect this guy?

President Trump says he wanted to bring both Colyer and Kobach to Washington

President Trump said he wanted to bring both Kansas governor Jeff Colyer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach to Washington D.C. during a rally in Topeka Saturday, Oct.6.
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President Trump said he wanted to bring both Kansas governor Jeff Colyer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach to Washington D.C. during a rally in Topeka Saturday, Oct.6.

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab seems to spend full-time shoveling out the wreckage left behind by his predecessor, Kris Kobach, whose enthusiasms unfortunately did not include running his office or helping Kansans vote.

They did include guns, so it wasn’t quite the shock that it should have been when Schwab announced late Thursday that the FBI investigation was over and the missing ammo purchased by Kobach’s office had been located.

Wait, missing ammo? FBI?

Why sure, it makes perfect sense that the state office in charge of overseeing elections would “have” to buy 1,000 rounds for the law enforcement officer it “had” to hire to help Kobach — the only secretary of state in the country with prosecutorial powers — chase down the mostly imaginary voter fraud that was his obsession. Local police departments were rightly unwilling to waste time and resources on this vapor-chasing exercise.

Schwab, whose office no longer has a law enforcement officer on staff, said he called the FBI in last month after an audit showed that 1,000 rounds of Winchester 9mm Luger ammunition had been purchased in 2017 — with taxpayer money, of course — and then poof, had disappeared.

“It didn’t seem appropriate to have ammunition unaccounted for, especially when purchased with state funds,” Schwab said in a statement that was also an understatement.

Then again, little about his fellow Republican’s tenure could be described as appropriate.

To review, Kobach was so disinterested in doing his job as secretary of state that he couldn’t even produce certification paperwork for voting machines, as required by law. A federal judge held him in contempt of court for refusing to properly update an election guide or send postcards to some voters.

Instead, he spent his time advising Kansans — and eventually, President Donald Trump — about his views on voter fraud by non-citizens. The 11 non-citizens he found to have cast a ballot since 1999 were just the “tip of the iceberg,” he said. Judge Julie Robinson, who at one point sentenced Kobach to six hours of remedial legal education said these were really “only an icicle.”

Kobach prosecuted about a dozen voter fraud cases in the 3 ½ years that he had the power to do so. Not one of them involved an undocumented immigrant.

In the end, the bullets that had gone missing from Kobach’s office weren’t hard to track down: Craig McCullah, the former assistant deputy secretary of state, said he had been certified as a law enforcement officer so he could do interviews for Kobach’s investigations.

McCullah, who is now chairman of the Shawnee County Republican Party, said he used 782 rounds while practicing at a firing range once a month. The other 218 bullets, which he turned over to the FBI, had “honestly just been collecting dust,” he said.

Kobach, who lost the 2018 governor’s race to Laura Kelly, is now running for the U.S. Senate.

This latest silly coda to all he’s already cost his state is just one more reason Kansans can and must do better.

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