While the media focuses on Kansas voters soundly defeating an effort to restrict abortion, yesterday’s primary also elevated Kris Kobach as the GOP nominee for attorney general, meaning he’s got a very good shot to be the state’s next attorney general.
He’s also such a bad lawyer that a judge ordered him to go learn the law. So good luck with all that, Kansas.
Kobach previously served as the state’s secretary of state, where he launched an effort to strip minorities of voting rights through intimidation and bureaucratic obstacles that ended so badly that the judge ordered him to take CLE courses on Kansas procedure or Evidence after fining him for making “patently misleading representations to the court.” The state had to cough up $1.9 million to settle the Kobach’s legal screwups.
He submitted a brief in federal court that included the note “PROBABLY NOT WORTH ARGUING”! Which was at least an accurate assessment.
Yet Kansas Republicans are interested in letting this man pursue litigation on the state’s dime. And if history is any guide, it’s going to be costly! ProPublica and the Kansas City Star took a deep dive into Kobach’s legal misadventures a few years ago and found a string of municipalities that put their faith in Kobach’s legal acumen and walked away holding massive bills to go with their even more massive Ls.
Kobach used his work in Valley Park to attract other clients, with sometimes disastrous effects on the municipalities. The towns — some with budgets in the single-digit-millions — ran up hefty legal costs after hiring him to defend similar ordinances. Farmers Branch, Texas, wound up owing $7 million in legal bills. Hazleton, Penn., took on debt to pay $1.4 million and eventually had to file for a state bailout. In Fremont, Neb., the city raised property taxes to pay for Kobach’s services. None of the towns are currently enforcing the laws he helped craft.
Kobach kept telling small towns to pass illegal laws about immigration and then collected fees as the towns hemorrhaged money trying to defend the ordinances. So why not take it up a notch and give him the budget of a whole state!
The last time Kobach sought statewide office in Kansas he managed to alienate enough of the state’s Republican majority to get a Democrat elected governor. Maybe he can do it again.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.