Kris Kobach’s Own State Just Defied His Bogus ‘Election Integrity’ Commission

Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks with a reporter in his office in Topeka, Kan., Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/AP

The vice chair of President Donald Trump’s shady “election integrity” commission has added his own state to the growing list of states that will not fully comply with the commission’s requests for sensitive voter information.

That’s right: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will not hand over information to his own commission.

“In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available. … Every state receives the same letter but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available,” Kobach told the Kansas City Star Friday. It was a change in stance from Thursday, the paper reported, when Kobach said Kansas would provide all requested information to the commission.

Kobach added Friday, hedging somewhat: “If the commission decides that they would like to receive Social Security numbers to a secure site in order to remove false positives, then we would have to double check and make sure Kansas law permits.”

In letters to secretaries of state across the country this week, Kobach asked for a variety of information that is not typically publicly available, including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and information regarding felony convictions, military status and overseas citizen information.

Several states — California,  Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Virginia — have refused to comply at all with the request. Many have said they will provide publicly available information — including Indiana, the home state of current Vice President and commission chair Mike Pence.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi Friday before news broke that Kansas would not be providing Social Security numbers to the commission, Kobach said “this is publicly available information. The commission is requesting what any person on the street in California can walk into a county election office and get.”

“If Social Security number is not publicly available, and it is not publicly available in most states, then we aren’t requesting it,” he said.

“So why’d you ask for it?” Velshi interjected.

“Well, because, if it is publicly available — if the public can get it — then the commission would like it, too,” Kobach said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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