Election Deniers in Kansas

Some candidates for high office in Kansas believe in the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Trust in free and fair elections is important in a democracy. It distinguishes us from authoritarian and totalitarian countries.

I realize the concern of people who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald J. Trump. If that election was stolen, our country would have a serious problem. But it was not stolen. There is simply no reliable, credible, believable evidence that it was. For example, a group of distinguished Republicans issued a report, with the introduction stating: “We are political conservatives who have spent most of our adult lives working to support the Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it is based: limited government, liberty, equality of opportunity, freedom of religion, a strong national defense, and the rule of law. We have become deeply troubled by efforts to overturn or discredit the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. There is no principle of our Republic more fundamental than the right of the People to elect our leaders and for their votes to be counted accurately. Efforts to thwart the People’s choice are deeply undemocratic and unpatriotic. Claims that an election was stolen, or that the outcome resulted from fraud, are deadly serious and should be made only on the basis of real and powerful evidence. If the American people lose trust that our elections are free and fair, we will lose our democracy.” (1)“Lost Not Stolen — The Conservative Case That Trump Lost And Biden Won The 2020 Presidential Election (July 2022).Pdf”. Google Docs, 2022, https://lostnotstolen.org/download/378/. Accessed 16 Oct 2022. Also: “Analysis | The 2020 Election Was Neither Stolen nor Rigged: A Primer.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/15/2020-election-trump-false-fraud-claims/. Also: Eggers, Andrew C., et al. “No Evidence for Systematic Voter Fraud: A Guide to Statistical Claims about the 2020 Election.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 118, no. 45, Nov. 2021, p. e2103619118. pnas.org (Atypon), https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2103619118. Also: “AP FACT CHECK: Trump Sticks To Election Falsehoods On Jan. 6”. AP NEWS, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/capitol-siege-joe-biden-donald-trump-ap-fact-check-election-2020-10bf58cd37e30c51478ad8bdc5a0a2e2?jr=on. Also: Wolfe, Jan. “Factbox: Trump’s False Claims Debunked: The 2020 Election and Jan. 6 Riot.” Reuters, 6 Jan. 2022. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/trumps-false-claims-debunked-2020-election-jan-6-riot-2022-01-06/.

In the upcoming elections in Kansas, it is important that we elect people who are willing to accept the results of free and fair elections. There is no issue that is more important. It does not matter whether candidates are conservative or progressive. It does not matter which political party they belong to. What matters is respecting the results of elections — even the results of elections they lose.

The Republican Accountability Project has created a set of criteria for Members of Congress. It includes these items: (2)“Report Card Criteria In Depth — Republican Accountability Project”. Republican Accountability Project, 2022, https://accountability.gop/report-card/report-card-criteria/.

  • Texas Amicus Brief. “126 Republican lawmakers signed an amicus brief in support of this lawsuit that attempted to disenfranchise millions of law-abiding voters.”
  • Electoral College Objections. “Ultimately, 139 House members and 8 Senators objected to certifying one or more states’ Electoral College votes, even after the carnage of that same day. By voting to disenfranchise millions of Americans and thereby overturn the results of the election, these Republicans made it clear that they stood with Trump, and not with our Constitution.”
  • Public Statements About the Election. “Casting doubt on the validity of this election, on an election that Trump’s own Attorney General recognized was free of widespread voting fraud, constitutes an attack on a cornerstone of our democracy: free and fair elections.”
  • Voting to Impeach or Convict Trump
  • Independent January 6th Commission
  • Voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress

In Kansas, some candidates for high offices believe the 2020 election was stolen. It is possible their beliefs have changed. But their initial enthusiasm to embrace then-president Trump’s false claims and conspiracies is a disqualifying factor.

(For a map of Kansas congressional districts, click here.)

Tracey Mann, United States Representative, First District

The Republican Accountability Project lists these factors about Rep. Mann in justifying a grade of Very Poor:

  • Objected to certification of electoral college votes in one or more states
  • Made no public statements about the election, or was evasive
  • Voted against impeachment or conviction of Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection
  • Voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack
  • Voted against holding Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress

He was not in office when Texas amicus brief was signed (see explanation under Derek Schmidt, Governor). On November 6, 2020, Mann said this on Twitter: “He has stood for us. We must now stand for him and a fair election. I’m making a contribution to the Donald J Trump For President Recount Fund to make sure all claims of fraud are investigated. Please consider joining me.” (3)Tracey Mann [@TraceyMannKS]. Twitter, 6 Nov. 2020, https://twitter.com/TraceyMannKS/status/1324861493922455552.

Jake LaTurner, United States Representative, Second District

The Republican Accountability lists these factors about Rep. LaTurner in justifying a grade of Very Poor:

  • Objected to certification of electoral college votes in one or more states
  • Made no public statements about the election, or was evasive
  • Voted against impeachment or conviction of Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection
  • Voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack
  • Voted against holding Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress

He was not in office when Texas amicus brief was signed (see explanation under Derek Schmidt, Governor). Of the impeachment of Trump after Jan. 6, he issued this statement: “The focus should be on bringing the criminals that broke into the Capitol to justice and conducting a bipartisan investigation into the security breakdown. Instead, Democrats are choosing to ram through a divisive impeachment while simultaneously mobilizing Big Tech to silence and demonize conservatives.” (4)“U.S. Representative Jake LaTurner’s Statement on 25th Amendment Resolution and Article of Impeachment.” Representative Jake LaTurner, 12 Jan. 2021, http://laturner.house.gov/media/press-releases/us-representative-jake-laturners-statement-25th-amendment-resolution-and.

Ron Estes, United States Representative, Fourth District

The Republican Accountability lists these factors about Rep. Estes in justifying a grade of Very Poor:

  • Signed Texas amicus brief (see explanation under Derek Schmidt, Governor)
  • Objected to certification of electoral college votes in one or more states
  • Made no public statements about the election, or was evasive
  • Voted against impeachment or conviction of Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection
  • Voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack
  • Voted against holding Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress

Derek Schmidt, Governor

As Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt joined other state Attorneys General in the case Texas v. Pennsylvania challenging the 2020 election: “Filed by Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton on December 8, 2020, under the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction, Texas v. Pennsylvania alleged that Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin violated the United States Constitution by changing election procedures through non-legislative means — thus violating the Independent state legislature theory.” (5)Texas v. Pennsylvania – Wikipedia. (2022). Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_v._Pennsylvania. This suit was rejected by the Supreme Court, writing: “The court, in a brief unsigned order, said Texas lacked standing to pursue the case, saying it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” Rep. Ron Estes also supported this case.

Schmidt has said he believes there is not widespread problems with elections in Kansas. (6)Smith, S. (2022). Derek Schmidt embraces integrity of Kansas elections in audio clip from GOP forum – Kansas Reflector. Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://kansasreflector.com/2022/03/02/derek-schmidt-embraces-integrity-of-kansas-elections-in-audio-clip-from-gop-forum/00

The election watchdog group The 65 Project describes itself as “a bi-partisan effort to protect democracy and preserve the rule of law by deterring future attacks on our electoral system. We are holding accountable Big Lie Lawyers who bring fraudulent and malicious lawsuits to overturn legitimate election results, and working with bar associations to revitalize the disciplinary process so that lawyers, including public officials, who subvert democracy will be punished.” It further notes: “Lawyers take an oath to stand as officers of the court, bound by a code of conduct and ethical requirements that do not apply to the public more broadly. They cannot uphold that duty while lying to the court or the public about the factual grounds for phony claims.”

The 65 Project has filed an ethics complaint against Schmidt for his participation in Texas v. Pennsylvania, writing: “The amicus brief that Mr. Schmidt signed and submitted to the United States Supreme Court reasserted allegations made by Texas that lacked any basis in law or fact. Indeed, the Texas filing cited no authority for allowing the State to have standing to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The amicus brief provided none, either.” Also: “Additionally, Texas’s briefing contained numerous false allegations that Mr. Schmidt’s briefs adopted. … Mr. Schmidt supported an effort that would invalidate the votes of tens of millions of citizens. Mr. Schmidt sought to prevent the counting of four states’ votes — to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters because Mr. Schmidt did not like how the elections in those states turned out.”

In conclusion, the complaint stated: “Mr. Schmidt chose to offer his professional license and public trust to Mr. Trump’s arsenal during the latter’s assault on our democracy. He cannot be shielded from the consequences of that decision simply because he holds high public office. For the reasons set forth above, we respectfully request that the Office of Disciplinary Administrator investigate Mr. Schmidt’s conduct and impose appropriate discipline. (7)Ethics Complaint Against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt — The 65 Project. (2022). Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://the65project.com/ethics-complaint-against-kansas-attorney-general-derek-schmidt/

Kris Kobach, Attorney General

The Brennan Center has an accounting of Kobach’s history regarding voting and immigration. (8)Uncovering Kris Kobach’s Anti-Voting History. (2022). Retrieved 18 October 2022, from https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/uncovering-kris-kobachs-anti-voting-history

Specific to elections and voter fraud, Kobach was elected Kansas Secretary of State in 2020, with prosecuting voter fraud a priority. He secured passage of a new law granting his office prosecutorial powers. (9)“A major theme of the campaign for Secretary of State in 2010 was securing elections, and immediately upon taking office as the new Secretary of State in January, 2011, Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach proposed and secured passage of legislation to do that. The bill, House Bill 2067, was dubbed the Secure And Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, and it is a national model for secure elections in the United States. It borrowed provisions from laws in Arizona, Georgia and Indiana, adapted them for Kansas, and added citizenship verification procedures to make Kansas elections the most secure in the country.” Kansas Secretary of State: Canvassing Kansas newsletter, June 2011. Archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20111225135225/https://www.kssos.org/forms/communication/canvassing_kansas/june11.pdf.

The result of this effort was meager. The first guilty plea was in December 2015, when a man pled guilty to voting in Kansas and in another state. By April 2019, prosecutors dropped the final case for lack of evidence. In total, Kobach’s office secured 13 guilty pleas or convictions. (10)Prosecutors drop last voter fraud case brought by Kobach. https://sunflowerstatejournal.com/prosecutors-drop-last-voter-fraud-case-brought-by-kobach/ After Kobach left office, the legislature dropped the law.

After Donald J. Trump won election in 2016, he believed there was voter fraud. He established a commission with Kobach as vice-chair. The commission found no evidence of voter fraud, and declined to produce a report, as the Associated Press reported in April 2018: “The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday.” (11)Report: Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud. (2021). Retrieved 18 October 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/north-america-donald-trump-us-news-ap-top-news-elections-f5f6a73b2af546ee97816bb35e82c18d The commission did not issue a report, and but a lawsuit forced disclosure of documents, again from AP: “Republican President Donald Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million ballots were illegally cast. … The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. The commission met just twice and has not issued a report.”

After the 2020 election, Kobach advocated the Texas v. Pennsylvania lawsuit that was rejected by the Supreme Court. (12)Kobach, K. (2020). Kobach: Texas Case Challenges Election Directly at Supreme Court. Retrieved 18 October 2022, from https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/12/07/kobach-texas-case-challenges-election-directly-at-supreme-court/

Kobach continues supporting the “Big Lie” promoted by Trump, that massive fraud stole the election from Trump. A friend reported on a Kobach speech in July: “Kris Kobach recently spoke to a crowd of Republicans in Harvey County. He shares about his background as Secretary of State and what he considers to be his accomplishments. He then goes on to say, ‘…altogether make Kansas the safest, strongest election security in the country…so the kind of nonsense you saw in 2000 Mules can’t happen in Kansas.’ Kobach quickly backtracks realizing that he’s been campaigning with the fraudulent elections guy and finishes with, although there is still some fraud. I’m sure others will speak about that.'” The movie 2000 Mules has been widely discredited, even by former Trump-appointed officials. (13)“Analysis | The Team behind ‘2000 Mules’ Is Called out for Deception. Again.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/17/team-behind-2000-mules-is-called-out-deception-again/. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

Today, Kobach continues to emphasize voter fraud, saying in a recent debate, “Those on the left who say there is no election fraud are simply ignoring reality.” He also promoted his prosecution of voter fraud: “In my tenure alone as secretary of state, … I prosecuted more than a dozen cases of fraud, and those were usually double voting cases.” (14)Swaim, Chance. “Kansas AG Candidate Compares Opponent to ‘Some Sort of Comic Book Villain’ in TV Debate.” The Wichita Eagle, 19 Oct. 2022, https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article267526343.html.

References

References
1“Lost Not Stolen — The Conservative Case That Trump Lost And Biden Won The 2020 Presidential Election (July 2022).Pdf”. Google Docs, 2022, https://lostnotstolen.org/download/378/. Accessed 16 Oct 2022. Also: “Analysis | The 2020 Election Was Neither Stolen nor Rigged: A Primer.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/15/2020-election-trump-false-fraud-claims/. Also: Eggers, Andrew C., et al. “No Evidence for Systematic Voter Fraud: A Guide to Statistical Claims about the 2020 Election.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 118, no. 45, Nov. 2021, p. e2103619118. pnas.org (Atypon), https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2103619118. Also: “AP FACT CHECK: Trump Sticks To Election Falsehoods On Jan. 6”. AP NEWS, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/capitol-siege-joe-biden-donald-trump-ap-fact-check-election-2020-10bf58cd37e30c51478ad8bdc5a0a2e2?jr=on. Also: Wolfe, Jan. “Factbox: Trump’s False Claims Debunked: The 2020 Election and Jan. 6 Riot.” Reuters, 6 Jan. 2022. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/trumps-false-claims-debunked-2020-election-jan-6-riot-2022-01-06/.
2“Report Card Criteria In Depth — Republican Accountability Project”. Republican Accountability Project, 2022, https://accountability.gop/report-card/report-card-criteria/.
3Tracey Mann [@TraceyMannKS]. Twitter, 6 Nov. 2020, https://twitter.com/TraceyMannKS/status/1324861493922455552.
4“U.S. Representative Jake LaTurner’s Statement on 25th Amendment Resolution and Article of Impeachment.” Representative Jake LaTurner, 12 Jan. 2021, http://laturner.house.gov/media/press-releases/us-representative-jake-laturners-statement-25th-amendment-resolution-and.
5Texas v. Pennsylvania – Wikipedia. (2022). Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_v._Pennsylvania.
6Smith, S. (2022). Derek Schmidt embraces integrity of Kansas elections in audio clip from GOP forum – Kansas Reflector. Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://kansasreflector.com/2022/03/02/derek-schmidt-embraces-integrity-of-kansas-elections-in-audio-clip-from-gop-forum/00
7Ethics Complaint Against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt — The 65 Project. (2022). Retrieved 17 October 2022, from https://the65project.com/ethics-complaint-against-kansas-attorney-general-derek-schmidt/
8Uncovering Kris Kobach’s Anti-Voting History. (2022). Retrieved 18 October 2022, from https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/uncovering-kris-kobachs-anti-voting-history
9“A major theme of the campaign for Secretary of State in 2010 was securing elections, and immediately upon taking office as the new Secretary of State in January, 2011, Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach proposed and secured passage of legislation to do that. The bill, House Bill 2067, was dubbed the Secure And Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, and it is a national model for secure elections in the United States. It borrowed provisions from laws in Arizona, Georgia and Indiana, adapted them for Kansas, and added citizenship verification procedures to make Kansas elections the most secure in the country.” Kansas Secretary of State: Canvassing Kansas newsletter, June 2011. Archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20111225135225/https://www.kssos.org/forms/communication/canvassing_kansas/june11.pdf.
10Prosecutors drop last voter fraud case brought by Kobach. https://sunflowerstatejournal.com/prosecutors-drop-last-voter-fraud-case-brought-by-kobach/
11Report: Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud. (2021). Retrieved 18 October 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/north-america-donald-trump-us-news-ap-top-news-elections-f5f6a73b2af546ee97816bb35e82c18d
12Kobach, K. (2020). Kobach: Texas Case Challenges Election Directly at Supreme Court. Retrieved 18 October 2022, from https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/12/07/kobach-texas-case-challenges-election-directly-at-supreme-court/
13“Analysis | The Team behind ‘2000 Mules’ Is Called out for Deception. Again.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/17/team-behind-2000-mules-is-called-out-deception-again/. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.
14Swaim, Chance. “Kansas AG Candidate Compares Opponent to ‘Some Sort of Comic Book Villain’ in TV Debate.” The Wichita Eagle, 19 Oct. 2022, https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article267526343.html.

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