A Kansas disciplinary agency will investigate allegations that Secretary of State Kris Kobach engaged in misconduct in voting rights lawsuits.
A letter from the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator sent last week to Keri Strahler, a Washburn University student who filed a complaint against Kobach, indicates the agency is launching an investigation.
The agency – which investigates attorney misconduct – can recommend disciplinary action to the state Supreme Court.
In her complaint, Strahler says Kobach defied orders from U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson and that a contempt hearing was scheduled but later cancelled. She also says Kobach failed to file documents in state court that would have helped an elderly couple register to vote.
Kobach also misled a federal court and was fined by a U.S. magistrate judge for deceptive conduct, the complaint says. Kobach is appealing a $1,000 fine that was leveled against him in June.
"I do not take this lightly, but there are ethical questions surrounding Mr. Kobach’s behavior as an attorney and I bring this concern for consideration should discipline be warranted," Strahler wrote.
Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter said his office had received the complaint and was reviewing it, but that he had no comment.
The letter to Strahler, from deputy disciplinary administrator Kate Baird, says "The allegations contained in your letter will be investigated." It adds that Strahler will be contacted by an investigator.
In an interview, Strahler said she is surprised her complaint will be investigated.
Each year the disciplinary agency receives about 800 complaints against attorneys, and opens investigations in about one-third of them, according to the Associated Press.
Contributing: Hunter Woodall of The Kansas City Star