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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was held in contempt of court on Wednesday for disobeying a judge’s orders not to enforce the state's controversial proof-of-citizenship voter registration law while the court weighed its legality.
Kobach, a Republican candidate for governor in Kansas, is President Donald Trump's chosen voter fraud expert and has repeatedly made unproven claims of widespread election fraud. He co-chaired Trump's commission on voter fraud before it was unceremoniously disbanded earlier this year. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered him to pay "reasonable" attorney fees to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of her decision.
In her ruling, Robinson notes that the ACLU offered "clear and convincing evidence" of civil contempt in testifying that the state's election manual was not updated, county election officials were not properly trained to enforce the injunction, and the state had not properly communicated with voters affected by the injunction.
"The judge found that Kris Kobach disobeyed the court's orders by failing to provide registered voters with consistent information, that he willfully failed to ensure that county elections officials were properly trained," Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. "Secretary Kobach likes to talk about the rule of law. Talk is cheap, and his actions speak louder than his words."
In 2016, a district court in Kansas granted the ACLU an injunction pending further litigation on the state's proof-of-citizenship law and ordered Kobach to stop enforcing it and to register voters whose applications had been denied because of the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Robinson has not yet ruled on the proof-of-citizenship law.
Kobach was held in contempt of court last year, too, for misleading the court about documents he was photographed bringing into a meeting with the president. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to testify about the documents.