Fraud Racism

Kris Kobach Has Been Grifting Small Towns Into Bankruptcy

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The state of Kansas has paid a high price for Secretary of State Kris Kobach's legal crusade against brown people, but they're far from alone.

ProPublica filed a series of public records requests and spoke to current and former officials from small towns where Kris Kobach said he could solve their economic anxiety (read: racism) with discriminatory ordinances and found a pattern that repeated itself over and over.

Kobach pitched small towns on his ordinances and then asked the towns to hire him to defend them in court. And he almost always loses at a very high cost.

Kris Kobach likes to tout his work for Valley Park, Mo. He has boasted on cable TV about crafting and defending the town’s hardline anti-immigration ordinance. He discussed his “victory” there at length on his old radio show. He still lists it on his resume.

But “victory” isn’t the word most Valley Park residents would use to describe the results of Kobach’s work. With his help, the town of 7,000 passed an ordinance in 2006 that punished employers for hiring illegal immigrants and landlords for renting to them. But after two years of litigation and nearly $300,000 in expenses, the ordinance was largely gutted. Now, it is illegal only to “knowingly” hire illegal immigrants there — something that was already illegal under federal law. The town’s attorney can’t recall a single case brought under the ordinance. [...]

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.

ProPublica reports that Kobach has been paid nearly a million dollars by the various cities and towns he's represented in losing cases but it's possible he's been paid more than that. Kansas state law apparently requires public officials to disclose their business interests, but not the amount they've been paid. Kobach also been paid through an LLC in some cases.

And to be clear, I wouldn't call an influx of immigrants a "problem," but Kobach was usually hired to deal with imaginary problems that don't really exist.

Get a load of this shit:

Valley Park had hardly any immigrants to speak of at the time Kobach was called in. The town’s Hispanic population had ticked up from 2 percent of the population to around 3 percent in 2006. That amounted to an increase of about 50 people in a town of 7,000.

That was enough for the town’s then mayor, Jeff Whitteaker. He took to local media to fulminate about overcrowding. “You got one guy and his wife that settle down here, have a couple kids, and before long you have Cousin Puerto Rico and Taco Whoever moving in,” Whitteaker told the Riverfront Times.

He championed an immigration ordinance and advocated hiring Kobach. Valley Park and Hazleton both passed ordinances within days of each other in July 2006.

The ACLU had warned both towns that they’d face lawsuits if the ordinances passed, and the organization quickly followed through on the threat.

Hazleton lost decisively.

I definitely don't have sympathy for these racist motherfuckers, but I won't have any for the state of Kansas either if they elect Kobach as their next governor.

Kobach could have people pining for the glory days of Sam Brownback.

  • Scopedog

    Wonderful. A racist Harold Hill, minus the 76 trombones.

  • KanaW

    Sadly, most small towns still suffer from the “Rainmaker” syndrome. If someone comes in, nice and flashy, and starts telling them that he can take care of all of their “problems”, they’ll believe him every time. All he needs is to be filled with bluster and hot air.

  • Ceoltoir

    Ever notice that they can’t seem to figure out that Puerto Rico is an American territory, which means that the people who live there are American citizens. As always, the “immigration debate” is really just anti-Hispanic racism made acceptable.

  • Aynwrong

    I had the same problem when cousin Ireland and Steamed Cabbage Whoever moved in upstairs.

    Every single dime of that grifters gilt could have been put towards a child’s education or a sick person’s healthcare needs.

    Seriously, why don’t these people just take a trip to Vegas and least have a little fun while burning through their hard earned cash?

  • Badgerite

    Jesus. Hasn’t Kansas suffered enough?
    That picture of trump shows one of his more obnoxious mannerism. Pointing at people all the time, usually the worst people, as if they are trophies.

  • muselet

    Kris Kobach is, in the words of Charlie Pierce “a lawyer who is really bad at law, but really good at monetizing hate and weaponizing fear.”

    He’s even better at the long con. Getting paid a hefty fee to lose repeatedly in court is an impressively shameless hustle.

    Of course, those municipalities were practically begging to get hustled, just as Kansas seems to be. I’m with you, Ashby: my sympathies are limited at best.


  • katanahamon

    Media. Media is both failing us in their duty, and being persecuted for the same duties by Rump. I really didn’t think Americans were so susceptible to propaganda and so stupid as to be taken to the cleaners by grifters and the organized propaganda of the right wing. Sigh…. (I figured out if you have trouble posting the comment by getting the disqus logo to respond, try eliminating the keyboard from the screen first..for some reason, it makes the button respond faster..)