Path for Kobach Grand Jury Investigation Cleared

(CN) – The Kansas Supreme Court cleared a path Thursday for a grand jury investigation into allegations that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and other election officials mismanaged the 2016 elections.

A citizen-initiated grand jury petition accuses Kobach, who won the Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary, of “being grossly neglectful” of his election duties and “preventing qualified electors from voting.”

Kansas is one of just six states to allow citizens to petition for a grand jury investigation. Steven Davis, a Lawrence, Kansas resident who unsuccessfully ran for a state House seat in this year’s Democratic primary, filed the petition in August of last year.

Douglas County Judge Peggy Kittel dismissed Davis’ petition, calling the allegations too general. But in June, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that the petition did not require specific claims and could move forward.

In the 31-page ruling, Chief Judge Karen Arnold-Burger said a grand jury petition is meant only to investigate possible crimes and does not require specific facts.

“The fact that the citizen filing the petition need not have all the relevant facts is evident from the language of the citizens’ grand jury petition statute,” Arnold-Burger wrote. “To insert this specificity requirement into the statute, when citizens may not have access to such information, would severely limit the purpose of a citizen-initiated grand jury.”

Kobach asked the Kansas Supreme Court to review the decision, but it turned down his request Friday.

Kobach, known for his hardline anti-immigration stances, had previously called the petition’s allegations “patently false” and only used for “political gain.”

Davis was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon.

In June, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled that Kobach could not enforce the state’s voter ID law, which required potential voters to supply proof-of-citizenship documents to register to vote. Additionally, the court found Kobach to be in contempt, ordering him to take six hours of extra legal education after he attempted to introduce evidence into the trial that the judge had already excluded.

Robinson wrote in her ruling that Kobach had a “well-documented history of avoiding this Court’s orders.”

Before the trial began, Kobach was fined $1,000 for “misleading” the court. After the contempt finding, the court ordered him to pay the American Civil Liberties Union $26,000 in legal fees.

Kobach was not immediately available for comment.

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