Letter to the Times: Kansas’ own million dollar man

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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The Six Million Dollar Man was a popular TV show in the 1970s. It featured Steve Austin, an astronaut who survived the crash of his spaceship and had surgery that turned him into a bionic man. The $6 million was the cost to rebuild him with machine parts and electronics that provided him with superhuman powers. Austin used those powers to battle evil for the good of mankind. 

In Kansas, we don’t have a six million dollar man, but we do have our own million dollar man, or more accurately a 1.9 million dollar man — Kris Kobach. In his case, the millions of dollars represents how much Kansas taxpayers had to pay for his misguided and faulty legal work as secretary of state.

As secretary of state, he missed any number of days of work because he was traveling out-of-state pushing his bogus voter fraud arguments and working on Trump’s behalf. When he showed up for work, he didn’t accomplish much. His lengthy and expensive efforts to find evidence of voter fraud resulted in only 15 fraud cases in all the federal, state and local elections from 2010 to 2016; roughly two cases per election! 

His work was of such poor quality that he was fined for trying to mislead the court over documents relating to a 2016 meeting with Trump, was found in contempt of court, and was ordered to take remedial law courses. In the end, Kansas taxpayers had to pay $1.9 million to cover his legal blunders that made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kobach now hopes to become the attorney general, and his campaign seems to promise more of the same fine legal work. The cornerstone of his campaign is to establish an agency that will do nothing but file lawsuits against President Biden. With his track record, the state will become the laughing stock of the nation’s judicial system.

It should be noted that Attorney General Derek Schmidt compounded Kobach’s errorSchmidt continued to appeal Kobach’s flawed lawsuit and pushed the legal costs up to $4 million. The state got off cheaply at $1.9 million because the ACLU and other attorneys agreed to a smaller settlement. It is hard to believe that Schmidt can keep a straight face when he pledges to cut wasteful spending.

— Thomas Weiss (he/him), Lawrence

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