Judge finds Kansas Republican Kris Kobach in contempt of court

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday found Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court for disobeying her order not to enforce the state’s disputed proof-of-citizenship voter registration law while the court weighed its legality.

Kobach is the front-running Republican candidate for Kansas governor, despite ongoing legal battles over the voter registration law he has sought to enforce as the state’s top election official.

Wednesday’s ruling was the latest in a series of rebukes of Kobach by Judge Julie Robinson of Kansas City.

Kobach is one of the United States’ most prominent voter fraud crusaders and an advisor to President Donald Trump on the issue. He has made claims of widespread voter fraud in the United States and co-chaired Trump’s now-dismantled commission on the subject.

In her Wednesday ruling, Robinson said Kobach had not treated voters affected by the ongoing court case the same as all other registered voters, in accordance with her previous order. She ordered him to pay attorney fees to the plaintiff in the case, the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Kansas law is one of numerous voter ID initiatives passed by Republican-led state legislatures that opponents say are designed to suppress groups of the electorate that tend to support the Democratic Party, such as the young and minorities. Supporters of the law say it is needed to prevent voter fraud.

A spokeswoman for Kobach said the secretary of state’s office would appeal Robinson’s decision.

Kobach was fined $1000 last year after Robinson concluded he tried to mislead the court over documents relating to a 2016 meeting with Trump.

(Reporting By Andrew Hay; editing by Darren Schuettler)