Kris Kobach under investigation by Kansas Supreme Court disciplinary office

A disciplinary office operated by the Kansas Supreme Court has opened an investigation into Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after receiving a complaint.

 

Keri Strahler, 47, of Topeka, said she received a letter over the weekend that says allegations she made against Kobach “will be investigated” and that an investigator would be in contact with her. Strahler said Monday that she has not yet heard from anyone at the court since receiving the letter Saturday.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said she could not confirm or comment on the investigation because proceedings in the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator are confidential, but she said complainants and respondents in investigations can release the information. The administrator “reviews complaints of misconduct against lawyers, conducts investigations, holds public hearings when appropriate, and recommends discipline to the Supreme Court in serious matters,” according to the office website.

Kobach’s spokeswoman Samantha Poetter said in an email that Kobach’s office was reviewing the investigation and had no comment.

Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett said the office gets between 800 and 1,000 cases a year and dockets about one third of them for a formal investigation. About 50 a year will get some kind of hearing or disciplinary action, he said. They could then get dismissed or result in admonition or diversion or more serious punishment through the Supreme Court, like censure, suspension, probation or disbarment. Hazlett said about 25 cases each year make it to the Supreme Court.

Strahler said Monday that she thought Kobach had shown a lack of respect for the courts. In her letter to the court, Strahler said she thought there were “ethical questions surrounding Mr. Kobach’s behavior as an attorney.”

She cited previous news articles regarding Kobach’s failure to respond quickly enough to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and a fine he received for misleading the court.

“It just irks me to no end that he should act that way in our courts,” Strahler said.

Strahler, a Washburn University student, said she has never filed a complaint against Kobach before and has not heard from his office regarding the investigation.

Kobach also faces a complaint that he violated federal law by using his position as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission to further his campaign for Kansas governor. The commission faces several lawsuits over its work.

Kobach announced his bid for governor last month in Lenexa and has made immigration, taxation and ending a “culture of corruption” in Topeka centerpieces of his campaign.

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