Politics & Government

Legislation could target Kobach

TOPEKA — The Kansas House's Democratic leader said Wednesday that he'll push legislation to stop Republican Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach from continuing legal work for city officials and legislators across the country who want to crack down on illegal immigration.

Kobach, a law professor now on leave, is nationally known for helping draft Arizona's immigration law. Kobach has repeatedly said he would work at least 40 hours a week as secretary of state and handle outside legal work in his spare time once he takes office Jan. 10.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that he plans to propose a bill that would prevent statewide elected leaders, Cabinet officials and other department heads from having any outside employment "of significance."

Davis said the measure probably would apply to the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, insurance commissioner, state treasurer and about a dozen officials appointed by the governor. But he cited Kobach as the reason the state needs such a law.

"When you're hired to do a job by the people of Kansas they expect you to be doing it on a full-time basis," Davis said. "I don't think there is room for people to have second jobs."

Kobach promised to fight the proposal.

"It's a brazen attempt to stop me from making the progress and reforms I've made in the illegal immigration area," he said.

The most controversial parts of Arizona's law are being challenged in court, including a section that would require police officers who are enforcing other laws to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Gov.-elect Sam Brownback, also a Republican, declined to comment on Davis' proposal. The Legislature convenes its annual session Jan. 10, with large GOP majorities in the House and Senate.

A statement filed by Kobach in June with the Secretary of State's Office, listing his substantial financial interests, shows he received at least $2,000 in fees during the previous year from Hazelton, Pa., and Valley Park, Mo. He advised those cities on regulations designed to crack down on illegal immigration and has represented both in legal challenges.

Kansas law does not require a state official to list an exact amount of compensation, or to provide details other than the client and its address.

Kobach's statement also lists compensation from the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a Washington-based law firm that promotes federal, state and local legislation cracking down on illegal immigration.