Former local state representative gives thoughts on election

It’s time we Republicans take a look at how we will vote in the governor’s race. I served Marion County and the entire 70th House District as your Republican State Representative from 2009 – 2012 (my law partner became a judge and I had to get ‘back to work’ in the office).

As a trained attorney, I want facts on which to base my decisions when I vote, and for me, honesty and integrity are crucial when selecting leaders, especially when selecting a governor – our state’s leader. I need evidence.

Here are the facts about the candidate Kris Kobach. It isn’t pretty:

Kris Kobach was state party chairman before running for Secretary of State in 2010 and what did the party have to show for that? According to the reports we got in Republican meetings when I was a legislator and as per Topeka Capital Journal, the IRS and the SEC levied thousands of dollars of penalties against the party. NEXT: In 2010 Kris Kobach and I both appeared at a ‘meet the candidate’ night in Strong City and we spoke there. Kris Kobach estimated that about 3,500 “illegal aliens” voted in Kansas’ elections and he would clean things up. Then-Secretary of State, Ron Thornburg asserted Kansas usually had about 3 people voting contrary to Kansas law in an election cycle, but that none were “illegal aliens.” What was the truth? Let’s look: How many illegal aliens did Kris Kobach produce for the Attorney General to prosecute? None. How many did he prosecute himself? One…in eight years!

In 2018, Kris Kobach was in federal court because of voter suppression issues. The allegations were, among other things that contrary to Kris Kobach’s assertions, the law was not cleaning up voter fraud, but instead kept lawful voters from voting. Numerous sources (written and reported on television news) reported that the judge made 3 important findings from our standpoint as Kansans: First, the Kansas voter registration law only marginally impacts non-citizens, but there was credible evidence that the Kansas law was illegally preventing thousands of eligible Kansans from voting; the Court ordered him to follow the requirements set out in federal law. Second, the Court found Kris Kobach in contempt of court and imposed a fine, and also ordered attorney fees be paid to the opposing attorneys. Third, the Court directed him to attend extra legal education classes on top of the 12 hours all attorneys must attend before they can be licensed for the next year, because of his numerous disclosure violations while in the federal district court… AND it appears he won’t be paying these attorney fees or penalties, but Kansas (you and I) will. As an attorney, I find EACH of these behaviors disturbing. As a voting Kansan, I see it absolutely unacceptable for any public official, much less for someone wanting to be our governor. Trustworthiness and integrity are essential, in my world.

NEXT: At the state fair this last September, the gubernatorial candidates took part in a candidate forum. Among other things, various news sources (including Wichita TV stations) reported Kris Kobach asserted that one of the Wichita high schools has 12 assistant principals, and used this ‘fact’ as evidence of why our schools need their budgets cut. The truth? Not one high school in Wichita, not even Wichita East (which has over 4,000 students) has even 6 assistants, much less 12. Problem: Once spoken, voters will remember that evil “fact” (as per the assertion of about the 3,500 “illegal alien voters”), and the risk is Kansans will follow him, having only heard his assertions. I cannot.

I believe Kansas needs reliable, trustworthy leaders, and Kris Kobach is NOT one of them. He has given us plenty of evidence that he has no regard for accuracy right here in Kansas, as well as on the national scene.

Unfortunately, THERE’S MORE: In 2012 I served on the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees, and Kris Kobach presented and testified on bills in each. As an attorney, reading laws is what I do, so analyzing proposed legislation and reviewing testimony is familiar territory. In my view, Kris Kobach’s testimony to the Judiciary Committee was at best inaccurate, evasive, and incomplete. Republicans held a significant majority on the committee; the bill died in committee.

Kris Kobach also testified in the Ag Committee on another bill he had proposed, and again, it died in committee primarily made up of Republicans. Gov. Brownback had made it clear to some members he opposed it; that the bill was designed create a benefit so a state official could hand it out to friends and supporters.

In contrast, I worked my 4 years as a State Rep with people in the House and Senate, and from both political parties in my effort to craft sound Kansas policy. I occasionally worked with Senator Laura Kelly. Laura was always respectful, and while on some issues we didn’t share the same policy ideas, she was reasoned, and willing to work for results that a majority (mostly Republicans) could support …. AND, after working with her once, I knew her word was good.

We Republicans must decide whether we will support Kris Kobach just because he has an R after his name; and whether we won’t vote for Laura Kelly just because she doesn’t have an R by her name. I believe we must seek a better reason to vote for or against these candidates than a party name. We need facts–-evidence. In my world, integrity and honesty still matter, possibly more right now than any other attribute of a candidate; and statements or ads full of half-truths ought not make these decisions for us.

Bob Brookens

Former District 70 State Representative

Marion, Kansas