Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach used state tax dollars to comply with a federal magistrate’s order to pay a $1,000 fine for misleading the court about documents in a folder he carried into a meeting with Donald Trump shortly after the Republican was elected president. U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara levied the penalty against Kobach after concluding he made “patently misleading characterizations” to the court about materials he carried into the Trump meeting in late 2016. The judge urged the secretary of state to avoid making unsupportable positions in such matters because it “it hurts his or her credibility when the court considers arguments” on more complex matters. Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, said three weeks ago Kobach had paid the penalty “out of his own pocket.” However, a Kansas Open Records Act request of the Kansas Department of Administration produced records Friday showing the payment was processed July 21, 2017, with a credit card issued by the state to Craig McCullah, who at that time was deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach and is now seeking the Republican Party’s nomination as secretary of state.
In an interview, McCullah said he was deployed to Ukraine with the Oklahoma Army National Guard when the secretary of state’s office used his card to pay the penalty. He had left the card in the care of secretary of state personnel through a deployment ending in December. “I was out of the country,” McCullah said. “I was never told about this.”
The credit card receipt from the U.S. District Court in Topeka said the courthouse transaction was executed by Bryan Harden, who was Kobach’s chief of staff.
A spokeswoman for Kobach confirmed the money came from the state treasury because “the office is the defendant in the case.”