A federal judge imposed on Wednesday more than $26,000 in sanctions against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as punishment for his “contemptuous behavior” during a voting rights case that challenged the state’s proof-of-citizenship registration law. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach in contempt in April stemming from a 2016 preliminary injunction. The decision handed down Wednesday specified the amount of attorney fees and expenses awarded after considering arguments from the parties. Robinson ruled in June that Kansas cannot require documentary proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, finding such laws violate the constitutional right to vote. That decision struck down the Kansas proof-of-citizenship registration law and made permanent the earlier injunction that had temporarily blocked it.
In issuing the latest sanctions, Robinson said Kobach failed to ensure local election officials sent voter registration postcards to people who registered when applying for a Kansas driver’s license or when using a federal form, regardless of documentary proof of citizenship, after she issued her initial order. She also noted that until recently the county election manual advised local election officials that people needed to submit citizenship paperwork to register to vote.
Kobach did not respond to cellphone, text, and email messages left with his spokeswoman, and his cellphones were not accepting any more messages.
Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s voting rights project, said Kobach remains the only person for whom he’s sought a contempt citation during a federal lawsuit. He said Kobach had engaged in “willful bad behavior.”