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Tag: kris kobach

Kobach Denied Access To ‘Build The Wall’ Money Scammed By Bannon

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

While former Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon continues to battle federal criminal fraud charges in connection with the We Build the Wall campaign, one of the far-right Republicans who has been unable to access funds from that project is former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. And on Monday, December 28, Kobach went to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to plead his case.

Kobach — a "birther" known for his anti-immigrant views and voter suppression efforts — has not faced any criminal charges in connection with We Build the Wall, a crowdfunding project for a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. Those who have been charged with fraud include not only Bannon, who served as White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration in 2017, but also, We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage and Bannon allies Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea. Prosecutors allege that Bannon, Kolfage, Badolato and Shea deceived donors by not using 100% of the funds for the construction of a border wall, and instead used a lot of the money for personal expenses.

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, Law & Crime reporter Adam Klasfeld notes, allege that "Bannon pocketed at least $1 million of the money, and Kolfage took $350,000 plus went on a spending spree to buy a Jupiter Marine yacht called the Warfighter, a Range Rover SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, and cosmetic surgery."

Klasfeld adds that as general counsel for We Build the Wall, "Kobach was compensated handsomely in attorneys' fees that the government does not allege to be improper." And because Kobach has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing — unlike Kolfage, Badolato and Shea — he believes it is unfair that he is being cut off from We Build the Wall assets during the prosecution.

But U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres disagrees. On December 14, according to Klasfeld, "Torres rejected Kobach's argument that blocking the money interfered with his due process rights."

Torres wrote, "Although the Supreme Court has made clear that pretrial hearings on forfeiture may be required when the forfeiture order is challenged by a criminal defendant, particularly where their Sixth Amendment right to counsel is implicated, the law concerning the rights of third parties is less clear."

Now, Kobach — who ran for governor of Kansas in 2018 and lost to Democrat Laura Kelly — is hoping that the Second Circuit will disagree with Torres' ruling. Kobach's attorney, Justin S. Weddle, according to Klasfeld, is arguing "that the indictment" in the fraud case against Bannon and the others "concedes that any alleged fraud ended when We Build the Wall updated the website to disclose that Kolfage would be compensated."

Weddle told Law & Crime, "The government has frozen funds donated well after that date, which can have no logical or legal connection to the alleged fraud. Regardless of the government's intent, the result is that the government has frozen We Build the Wall's pursuit of its mission, which is the opposite of what its donors intended."

Kobach has a reputation for being an extremist even in Republican circles. When Barack Obama was president, Kobach promoted the racist "birther" conspiracy theory— which claimed, with zero evidence, that Obama wasn't really born in the U.S. and was really born in Kenya. Obama's birth certificate made it abundantly clear that he was born in Hawaii and is a life-long U.S. citizen, contrary to what Kobach and other birthers claimed.

In addition to embracing birtherism, Kobach is known for his anti-immigrant viewsand for promoting voter suppression. But Kobach's xenophobia couldn't get him past the finish line in Kansas' 2018 gubernatorial race. Even in a deep red state, Kobach lost to the Democratic nominee, Laura Kelly, by 5% — and Kelly is now governor or Kansas.

Trump Claims He Rejected Wall Scam, But Sponsors Boasted Of His Support

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

After Steve Bannon's arrest on Thursday, Donald Trump tried to put a Grand Canyon-sized gap between himself and the "We Build The Wall" border scheme. Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea were indicted on counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The federal indictment says the crew pilfered "hundreds of thousands of dollars" and a Bannon-controlled nonprofit received more than $1 million in funds.

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Why Republicans Fear Kobach Will Lose Kansas

Former Kansas Secretary of State officially announced on Monday that he will be seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat presently held by Republican Pat Roberts, who is retiring. If Kobach receives the nomination and defeats a Democratic nominee in 2020, he would hardly be the first Republican to win that seat — Kansas hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1930. In other words, Kansas is a very red state. And yet, some GOP strategists are imploring Kobach not to run and fear that if he does receive his party’s nomination, he could become the first Republican to lose a U.S. Senate race in Kansas in 90 years.

Kobach isn’t just any Republican: he is extreme even by modern-day GOP standards. And he comes with a lot of baggage. Here are some of the reasons why various Republican strategists would love to see Kobach drop out of the race.

1. Kobach lost Kansas’ gubernatorial race to a Democrat in 2018

Texas is often described as a red state, but compared to Kansas, Texas is light red rather than deep red. In 2018, according to U.S. News and World Report, voter registration in Kansas was a paltry 24 percent Democratic — whereas Pew Research found that among Texans, the political makeup was 39 percent “Republican/lean Republican,” 40 percent “Democrat/lean Democrat” and 21 percent “no lean.” Democrats have more reason to feel depressed in Kansas than they do in Texas. And yet, in 2018, the unthinkable happened in Kansas: a centrist Democrat, Laura Kelly, won the gubernatorial race, defeating Kobach by 5 percent.

Granted, 5 percent isn’t a landslide, but this is Kansas we’re talking about — not California, Massachusetts or even a swing state like Florida or Pennsylvania. In 2016, President Donald Trump won Kansas by 21 percent. And GOP strategists fear that if Kobach could lose one statewide race in Kansas, he could lose another.

Joanna Rodriquez, press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, complained to The Hill, “Just last year, Kris Kobach ran and lost to a Democrat. Now, he wants to do the same and simultaneously put President Trump’s presidency and Senate Majority at risk.”

2. Kobach lost a House race to a Democrat in 2004

The 2018 election wasn’t the only time Kobach lost to a Democrat. In 2004, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District and was defeated by former Rep. Dennis Moore by 11 percent in a district that is 82 percent white. Kobach has held some major positions (chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, Kansas secretary of state), but GOP strategists believe that he has suffered too many losses to Democrats in a state where Republicans have a huge advantage.

A GOP strategist who spoke to The Hill on condition of anonymity fears that if Kobach stays in the Senate race and Democrats win enough Senate races in red states, they might regain control of the Senate in 2020. “You can see a real scenario where President Trump is reelected and the U.S. Senate falls to the Democrats if Kobach puts Kansas in play,” that strategist warned.

3. Kobach is an unapologetic birther

When Barack Obama was president, Kobach enthusiastically promoted the racist and idiotic birther conspiracy theory — which claimed that Obama wasn’t really a U.S. citizen and was born in Kenya. Obama’s birth certificate proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961. Yet even when MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was holding Obama’s birth certificate right up to the camera in order to show how ridiculous birthers were, Kobach persisted in his birtherism.

4. Kobach falsely accused the Human Rights Campaign of promoting ‘pedophilia’

Kobach, a far-right Christian fundamentalist, is notoriously anti-gay. When he ran against Moore in 2004, he accused his Democratic opponent of associating with a group that promoted “homosexual pedophilia.” That group was the Human Rights Campaign, a mainstream gay rights organization that has never condoned or promoted pedophilia in any way. But in his effort to smear Moore, Kobach reflexively associated a gay rights group with pedophilia.

5. Kobach has worked for the racist Federation for American Immigration Reform

Kobach has not only been an avid proponent of voter suppression; he has also been deeply anti-immigrant and worked for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal division of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group. The Federation, founded by eugenics proponent John Tanton in 1979, has a long history of calling for a moratorium on immigration and claiming that Latinos don’t fully assimilate into U.S. culture.

Local Citizens Describe Crowd-Funded Border Wall As A Failure

A new half-mile wall built with private funds along the U.S.-Mexico border has not stopped the flow of immigrants coming from Mexico, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday.

“It’s a bunch of bullshit,” Fernando Ontiveroz, a resident of Sunland Park, New Mexico, told BuzzFeed. Even though he supported the idea of a wall along the border, Ontiveroz admitted, “I don’t think it’s working.”

The section of wall in Sunland Park, a New Mexico border town near El Paso, Texas, was built on private property and spearheaded by the group We Build the Wall. The group built the half-mile-long, 20-foot-high wall even though they did not have proper permits to do so. They claimed the structure would help stem the flow of illegal immigration and stop criminal activities like drug smuggling and human trafficking.

But the $20 million effort appears to be an abject failure, according to local residents.

BuzzFeed reporters saw dozens of migrants come into the town after the wall was built and were approached by several adults with children looking for a border patrol agent so they could turn themselves in. Another night, border patrol agents detained 54 people “a stone’s throw away from the base of the crowdfunded wall.”

“Regardless of what they build, they’re still coming in,” Jorge Alaniz, an El Paso resident, told BuzzFeed.  “This is just political crap.”

The mayor of Sunland Park worries that the wall will be ineffective and just funnel migrants to enter the country in other areas.

“It is always the case, where you have outsiders coming in thinking they have a solution,” Javier Perea, mayor of Sunland Park, told BuzzFeed. “Building the wall won’t change the source of the problem.”

“It’s clear to us that construction of a portion of the wall in private property is nothing but a political stunt by white supremacists and xenophobic groups,” Fernando Garcia, executive director of the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights, told KTSM at the end of May.

The effort to build a privately funded wall was backed by Trump allies such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and We Build the Wall’s general counsel Kris Kobach has ties to white supremacists.

Asylum-seekers are still coming across the border, fleeing desperate situations.

“They traveled thousands of miles by foot, so they’ll do whatever it takes,” Alaniz told Buzzfeed, adding, “These people are desperate. They’re hungry and they’re trying to survive.”

Rather than do anything to help, We Build the Wall constructed one final, half-mile-long barrier.

By all appearances, it is a multimillion dollar failure.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Screenshot of the wall on private land in Sunland, New Mexico.


Supreme Court May Uphold Immigration Query On Census

Trump’s quest to further rig the political system to benefit Republicans got another boost on Tuesday, when the conservative justices on the Supreme Court looked likely to uphold his administration’s racist citizenship question on the 2020 Census, according to multiple Supreme Court reporters who followed oral arguments in the case of Department of Commerce v. New York.

The Trump administration wants to ask Census respondents if they are citizens of the United States. Experts say this could lead to as many as 6.5 million people being left out of the the constitutionally mandated count of the U.S. population because immigrants would fear being targeted by the Trump administration if they reveal their immigrant status — as the Trump administration has adopted virulently racist and anti-immigrant policies.

And excluding millions of people from the population count would mostly hurt Democrats, whose voters are concentrated in urban areas and in states with large immigrant populations such as California and New York. Given that House seats are apportioned based on the Census count, undercounting residents in urban areas and traditionally Democratic states could cause those places to lose House seats and take away Democratic representatives.

For example, the Washington Post reported that an undercount on the Census could cost the heavily Democratic California as many as three House seats.

Already, Republican legislatures in states across the country have voted to strip duly elected Democratic officials of their power, and have begun to institute voting changes that are intended to disenfranchise minority and youth voters who break heavily toward Democrats.

The lawsuit against the citizenship question showed that former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — a fierce anti-immigrant crusader — lobbied Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add the question to the Census.

Career Census Bureau officials were opposed to the question as they feared it would lead to the undercount, but Ross added it anyway, according to USA Today.

Ross has since tried to avoid congressional inquiry into his reasoning for adding the question, refusing to testify before Congress.

Of course, it’s possible the Supreme Court could rule against the administration and block the citizenship question from the Census.

However, reporters who followed Tuesday’s oral arguments said the conservative justices on the court — two of whom were appointed by Trump — looked poised to allow the question to stand.

If the Supreme Court allows the citizenship question to go forward, it would be the latest successful GOP effort to help solidify their minority rule.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his Topeka, Kansas, office May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

Kansas Republicans Turn On Kris Kobach, Top GOP Vote Suppressor

Reprinted with permission from

Few people have done more to shape the Republican Party’s recent crusade against voting rights, or have been given more power and influence to regulate the polls, than Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

But now, Kobach’s career looks like it’s in freefall — exactly at the moment Kobach is trying to unseat fellow Republican Jeff Colyer for governor.

Kobach’s latest humiliation came on Friday. After Kobach was found in contempt of court, Republicans in the Kansas House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to ban state funds from being used to pay any penalties he might face.

According to the Topeka Capitol-Journal, the ban is likely illegal and unenforceable. But the vote is a stunning disavowal from the party that not only supported Kobach’s war on democracy but handed him the firepower to wage it.

Kobach has been a formidable force within the GOP as one of the loudest voices alleging massive illegal voting and pushing for severe restrictions at the polls.

Kobach was celebrated by Trump, who has repeatedly claimed he only lost the popular vote due to voter fraud (which has been disproven). He was even appointed to co-chair Mike Pence’s commission on “election integrity.”

The truth is that his claim of an epidemic of noncitizen voting does not exist. His “reforms” just block legal voters, most of which are low-income and non-white.

Koback attempted to implement many laws known to hold up voters, including requiring voters to submit proof of citizenship before registering — which was repeatedly shot down in court. His personal investigators found barely any cases of voter fraud. And his plan for excessive voter cross-checking is quietly being abandoned, with eight states pulling out over concerns the system is inaccurate and insecure.

And Trump’s voter fraud commission collapsed, after state leaders in both parties refused to submit data and the commission was sued by one of its own members.

As a final humiliation, Kobach was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay the ACLU’s legal fees after the organization sued him for his voter suppression tactics.

Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, had to reprimand him for not following court procedure, and his own witnesses failed to provide one example of an election being swayed by noncitizen voters.

It seems like Republicans have caught on that their once rising star is a failure. And they want no part of the fallout from his disgrace.

IMAGE: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach looks on as he talks about the Kansas voter ID law in his Topeka, Kansas office May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

This Study Proves Trump’s Travel Ban Is A Ridiculous Method To Prevent Terrorism

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Kris Kobach, anti-immigration adviser to President Trump, told Fox News Wednesday that Trump’s forthcoming second executive order to ban refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries “is even better and more unassailable than the first.”

“These programs have been abused by terrorists who know that, hey, if you can come in as a refugee to the United States, you get a green card, and can go back and forth to Afghanistan or wherever for terrorist training,” said Kobach, who is the Secretary of State of Kansas. He claimed to have a list of “18 terrorists who have used our refugee program in the past couple decades,” but he didn’t share it.

The best recent study on the topic is a 2016 report by the libertarian Cato Institute, which found there were 154 foreign-born terrorists who engaged in fatal attacks in the United States from 1975 to 2015. Twenty of these terrorists were refugees. Collectively those 20 people were responsible for killing a total of three people.

Thus the annual likelihood that an American will be killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is, according to Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh, approximately “1 in 3.64 billion.”

By comparison, the annual likelihood that an American will die in an automobile crash is about 1 in 48,000. As Politico’s Ted Hesson says, “Maybe we need to start deporting Subarus.”

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent.

IMAGE: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks in his Topeka, Kansas, U.S., office May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup/File Photo