- Kris Kobach was fined $30,000 by the Federal Election Commission for accepting an illegal contribution.
- He took the contribution during a failed Senate bid in 2020. He was just elected attorney general of Kansas.
- Kobach is known nationally for his uncompromising views on immigration and election laws.
New Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach has been fined $30,000 by the Federal Election Commission for violating federal campaign finance laws during a failed 2020 Senate campaign.
According to an agreement between Kobach and the commission signed in November and made public this week, Kobach’s senatorial campaign rented the mailing list from “WeBuildTheWall, Inc.” for just $2,000 in 2019, well below the normal rate for business listing rentals.
The discrepancy constituted an illegal in-kind contribution by a company, the commission found.
The investigation originally stemmed from two complaints filed by ethics groups in 2019 – one from the Campaign Legal Center alleging We Build The Wall made a prohibited contribution, and another from Common Cause which also accused Kobach of “soft money” violations in connection with the solicitations.
The commission ultimately found “insufficient information in the record” to support the soft money claim.
In a statement to Insider, Adav Noti, senior vice president and chief legal officer of the Campaign Legal Center, said the fine was “too little and too late” and called for a Congressional overhaul of the commission” notoriously ineffective”.
The group has called for reform of the body in recent months, citing dysfunction and the appointment of commissioners “ideologically opposed” to the commission’s goal of enforcing campaign finance laws.
Kobach lost the 2020 Republican U.S. Senate primary to Roger Marshall, now the state’s junior U.S. senator. But he was narrowly elected as attorney general this year days before the deal was signed with the commission, and he was given 30 days to pay the fine. He is due to be sworn in next month.
Kobach did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the matter.
“We Build The Wall,” the group that contributed to Kobach’s senatorial campaign, has its own colorful history.
After its founding in 2018, the group solicited donations to build portions of a wall on the US-Mexico border independently of the US government. But in 2020, founder Brian Kolfage — along with former Donald Trump presidential campaign CEO Steve Bannon — were arrested by federal prosecutors and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. .
Trump later pardoned Bannon in the final days of his presidency. But Bannon now faces similar charges from the New York State Attorney General and was arrested again in September 2022.
Kobach, as of that year, was still the group’s legal adviser. He told the Topeka Capital-Journal in September that he was contributing to the “orderly closure” of the company and was not involved in the fraudulent scheme. He would also be owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid legal fees by the group.
The new state attorney general, who served as Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, gained national notoriety under the Trump administration for his anti-immigration views and allegations of voter fraud.
Most notably, he was vice-chairman of the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity”, a commission charged with investigating electoral fraud during the 2016 elections. This body was dissolved less than a year after its created in 2017.
In 2021, the state of Kansas agreed to pay nearly $2 million to a group of attorneys as part of a settlement after successfully challenging a law championed by Kobach that required new voters to present documents of citizenship when registering to vote.