Tomorrow, Friday, August 17, at some point after 9:00 AM, Kris Kobach will speak before the US Commission on Civil Rights in defense of Alabama’s HB 56, of which he is the author. And so, yet again, the Kansas Secretary of State will depart his elected post, and head off to attend to the work that so squarely has zero relevance to that post’s duties.
Kobach, as he likes to remind all, will be conducting this business in his “free time.”
Like last month, when he flew to Washington, DC, to appear on a panel titled, “Ensuring Election Integrity,” that was hosted and co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. Todd Gaziano, director of Heritage’s Center for Legal & Judicial Studies, moderated that panel.
Coincidentally, it seems Gaziano will host Kobach again tomorrow, as he is also a Commissioner for the US Commission on Civil Rights.
Over the last few years, especially given the myriad anti-immigrant laws he’s drafted and defended, panels he’s appeared on, hearings he’s testified before, radio and TV news shows he’s spoken to, etc, one could be excused for forgetting that back in 2007 the then Chair of the Kansas GOP openly boasted in an email to party members about “voter caging,” an illegal method of voter suppression:
“To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!”
One could also be forgiven for believing his boasting extreme and so likening it to racially charged tidbits from past leaders of the hard-line New Right.
Like Ben Blackburn, former chairman of the Heritage Foundation’s board of trustees, who before a Senate committee in 1975 said:
“[V]oting was not an inherent right but a privilege that should be qualified by some sort of literacy test.”
And here’s Paul Weyrich, the first president of Heritage, in 1981:
“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Weyrich was one of the leaders of said New Right, with such infamy stemming from his work on behalf of the Coors family. This involved sustained first-hand relationships with Nazi sympathizers like Franz Josef Strauss and convicted Nazi collaborator Laszlo Pasztor.
Weyrich was also one of the founders of the more presently infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which works to bridge gaps separating barons of the private prison industry, lobbyists/activists of the nativist, anti-immigrant movement, and state legislators.
One of those legislators, who is also described as “a leader in ALEC,” is Russell Pearce, the recently recalled Arizona Senate leader who wrote SB 1070 with Kobach’s help. The ACLU recently exposed to the world the voluminous cache of racism that is Russell Pearce’s Senate email account.
Now, what one says privately is occasionally what one would never say publically, as was the case with Kobach’s long time
associate Pearce; however, this wasn’t the case when Kobach was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal:
“Ideally, Kansas can become a place where conservative ideas of government are tried and exported to other states.”
Voter ID laws are integral to the re-establishing of the fringe-Right dominance that Weyrich fought so hard to see established under Reagan. And so it goes now for other legislators elected under the watch of other secretaries of state—Kobach he has become the high-bar for which they aim.
Like Jon Husted, Ohio’s Secretary of State, who until he came under focused national criticism for displays blatant partisanship freely sought to limit the advantages of early voting, extended voting hours, and weekend voting to only Republican-dominated counties. And like Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, one of the loudest proponents of Pennsylvania’s voter ID bill. Metcalfe is also a member of both ALEC and the anti-immigrant coalition State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), of which Russell Pearce is a founding member.
No doubt, Kobach’s will is the impetus behind why he so regularly deserts his post to travel the width-and-breadth of America—he’s now firmly in the business of interstate exporting.
Next stop, Alabama.