Opinion Columns & Blogs

Kobach defends former appointee as ‘highly respected’

Newby Associated Press

An audit earlier this year found extravagant spending by former Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby, including purchases of Goggle smart glasses, an Apple iWatch and other tech gear unnecessary for his job. Now e-mails obtained by Associated Press reveal that Newby was having an affair with his assistant election commissioner – an apparent violation of county policy – and that the two created an abusive work environment. E-mails show that other employees complained about the toxic workplace, including to Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office. Kobach reappointed Newby to the position in 2014 and recommended him for his current job as executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission – where Newby approved a voting registration change sought by Kobach without holding public hearings or receiving approval from the EAC commissioners. Despite these latest revelations, Kobach defended Newby, saying he “was, and remains, one of the most highly regarded election administrators in the United States.” Kansans beg to differ. – Phillip Brownlee