POLITICS
07/04/2017 09:32 am ET Updated Jul 04, 2017

Civil Rights Group Files Legal Complaint Against Kris Kobach

The Kansas secretary of state violated the Hatch Act, they say.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  (R) is being accused of violating a federal ethics law while serving as the head of President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights group, said that he used his role in that commission to promote his candidacy for governor.

Kobach is the vice-chair of the Presidential Election Integrity Commission, which Trump established himself through executive order in May. Kobach is also running for governor in 2018.

He touted his role on the commission to promote his candidacy for governor in several realms, the committee’s complaint says, including his campaign website, on his official campaign social media accounts and during public appearances.

“The ethics rules may not categorically bar Mr. Kobach from listing his role on the Commission among other biographical details, but his extraordinarily aggressive promotion of his Commission role — including in soliciting campaign donations — far exceeds any such acceptable use,” adds the complaint.

This activity represents a violation of the Hatch Act, according to the committee. The law dating back to 1939 prevents federal employees from engaging in certain forms of political activity.

The committee, which seeks to protect the enforcement of federal civil rights laws, also requested that the Office of Government Ethics and the White House Counsel’s Office investigate Kobach “for numerous apparent violations of the federal ethics rules,” it adds in its complaint.

“We are certain that no Hatch Act violations have occurred,” Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter told CNN Monday. “This is nothing but a bunch of liberal lawyers trying to create a story.”

Kobach’s time as vice chair hasn’t been going so well. Several state election officials have refused to comply with the panel’s request last week for specific and often private voter data, including items such as names, addresses, political party and information regarding any felony convictions. Kobach himself said he wouldn’t release the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, even though he defended the request in an MSNBC interview last week.

“The commission is only requesting what any person on the street in California can walk into a county election office and get,” he said. “So if a Social Security number is not publicly available ― and it is not publicly available in most states ― then we aren’t requesting it. If it is publicly available, if the public can get it, then the commission would like it too.”

The week before, a federal magistrate judge fined Kobach $1,000 for not being straightforward about the nature of the documents he was photographed holding while meeting with Trump earlier this year.

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