Kris W. Kobach
31st Kansas Secretary of State
Kris W. Kobach is the Secretary of State for Kansas, sworn in on January 10, 2011. Kansas voters elected him by a wide margin on a platform focused on stopping voter fraud. With that goal in mind, Secretary Kobach began his term by introducing the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act in the Kansas House of Representatives. The Act was adopted by both houses of the legislature on March 29, 2011 by wide margins with bipartisan support. Governor Brownback signed the SAFE Act on April 18, 2011.
Prior to his election as Secretary of State, Secretary Kobach was a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Missouri – Kansas City from 1996 to 2011. He is also a nationally-recognized litigator who represents US citizens, cities, and states in cases involving illegal immigration across the country.
Secretary Kobach grew up in Topeka, Kansas, and graduated co-valedictorian from Washburn Rural High School in 1984. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree with highest distinction from Harvard University in 1988, graduating at the top of his class in the Harvard Government Department. In 1988, the British government awarded him a Marshall Scholarship, which took him to England for post-graduate study. In 1992, he received his doctorate in Political Science from Oxford University. In 1995, he received his Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School, where he served as notes development editor on the Yale Law Journal.
Secretary Kobach was admitted to the Kansas Bar in 1995 and served as a law clerk to Judge Deanell Reece Tacha of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in 1995 and 1996. By that time, he had already published two books: The Referendum: Direct Democracy in Switzerland (Dartmouth, 1993), and Political Capital: The Motives, Tactics, and Goals of Politicized Businesses in South Africa (University Press of America, 1990). In addition, he has published numerous scholarly articles on elections, political science, constitutional law, and immigration law.
In 2001, Secretary Kobach was awarded a White House Fellowship, which took him to Washington, DC, to work for the Bush Administration in the personal office of United States Attorney General John Ashcroft. Secretary Kobach served as the Attorney General's chief advisor on immigration law and border security. After his fellowship year ended, the Attorney General appointed Kobach as his Counsel. After the 9/11 attacks, Secretary Kobach was put in charge of Department of Justice efforts to prevent terrorists from exploiting gaps in U.S. immigration controls. He led the team that designed and implemented the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which registers and fingerprints high-risk visitors to the United States. Within its first year of operation, the registration system resulted in the apprehension of numerous suspected terrorists. Secretary Kobach also led Department of Justice reforms of the immigration court system, resulting in the reshaping of the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2002.
Secretary Kobach is well known nationally for his role as co-author of Arizona's SB 1070 illegal immigration law. He assisted Arizona in the drafting and defense of that law, as well as other statutes designed to stop illegal immigration. He has provided similar assistance to other states and cities. Secretary Kobach has litigated some of the most significant immigration-related cases in the country. He is lead counsel defending Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in its efforts to stop the employment of unauthorized aliens and the harboring of illegal aliens in apartments. The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and allied organizations. He is also defending Farmers Branch, Texas, and Fremont, Nebraska, against similar lawsuits.
Secretary Kobach has testified before Congress ten times on numerous topics, most often on questions involving immigration law. He has been a frequent legal commentator on The O'Reilly Factor (FOX News Channel), Fox and Friends (FOX News Channel) and other cable news programs. He has also been a frequent columnist for the New York Post and the Washington Times. In addition, he is the host of The Kris Kobach Show heard weekly on KCMO 710 AM talk radio.
Secretary Kobach and his wife Heather have four daughters: Lilly, Reagan, Molly and Charlotte. They reside in Piper, Kansas, and attend Open Door Baptist Church.