Eagle editorial: Shame on Kobach

The absurd suspense now over, President Obama’s name will be listed on the state’s ballots for the Nov. 6 general election after all. Too bad Kansas can’t un-ring the bell heard far and wide when the State Objections Board hesitated to deny a Manhattan resident’s challenge to Obama’s citizenship.

National headlines casting three top statewide elected officials as birther sympathizers were not what Kansas needed as it attempts to recruit new businesses and grow its economy and population.

To their discredit, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov Jeff Colyer had the votes on the board to toss out the challenge last week but didn’t, sanctioning the need to receive more documentation confirming the president’s citizenship status. Their absences at Monday’s follow-up meeting, and the zeal of their deputies to end it quickly, signaled their lack of interest in prolonging the nonsense.

But the real shame falls on Secretary of State Kris Kobach. As the state’s top elections official, he lent credibility to Joe Montgomery’s ridiculous complaint in his statements at both meetings and to the media. Then Kobach let California attorney Orly Taitz, the mother of birtherism, speak at Monday’s meeting, even though Montgomery already had dropped his objection.

Nor did Kobach help himself or the situation he’d put the state in by saying afterward, “That, for me, settles the issue” and “I have no doubts now.”

So he did, in fact, have doubts before? Come on.

Many Kansans are losing patience with their secretary of state, and no wonder. Nearly two years into his tenure, Kobach seems less interested in the job than in crusading against so-called voter fraud and illegal immigration all over the country, influencing the GOP platform, and supposedly advising GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. (That’s a relationship of some mystery, by the way; the Romney campaign has called Kobach an “informal adviser,” but Romney told Univision Monday, “I have not met with him.” His campaign spokesman later said that Kobach and Romney have met at campaign events but that Kobach doesn’t participate in policy meetings.)

Regarding his moonlighting as the author of other states’ anti-immigration laws, Kobach has said, “I use my spare time to defend American sovereignty.” But he needs to understand that everything he does, on or off the clock, reflects on Kansas.

And his handling of the birther challenge made Kansas look ridiculous.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman