Kobach lawyer seeks to delay release of video in Kansas case

FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2018, file photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaks during a news conference in Topeka, Kan. An attorney for Kobach is seeking to delay the release of a video of him being questioned in a federal voting-rights lawsuit to avoid hurting his campaign for governor. A court filing late Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, by Sue Becker draws a link between stopping the video's release and Kobach's campaign as the Republican nominee for governor. (Thad Allton/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is seeking to delay the release of a video of Kobach being questioned in a federal voting-rights lawsuit to avoid hurting his campaign for governor.

A court filing late Wednesday by Sue Becker draws an explicit link between stopping the video’s release and Kobach’s campaign as the Republican nominee for governor, The Wichita Eagle reported. Becker is general counsel for the secretary of state’s office.

The video was played during the trial of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against a state law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering. The video provides details about Kobach’s private talks with President Donald Trump and members of Congress.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck down the law in June as an unconstitutional restriction on voting rights. The transcript of the video already is public, but the ACLU and Kobach’s office have been sparring over the potential release of the video itself.

Becker’s filing specifically asks that if Robinson decides to release the video, she delay her decision long enough for Kobach to seek a review by a higher court.

Becker wrote that once the video is released, Kobach expects it to be released immediately to the media and “used in last-minute political commercials.” Kobach is in a dead heat with Democratic nominee Laura Kelly, a veteran state senator from Topeka.

“The release of the videotape has nothing to do with this litigation; rather it is a transparent effort by a nakedly partisan and liberal organization to inject this lawsuit and the State’s loss into the gubernatorial campaign,” Becker wrote.

Ahead of the GOP primary in August, the ACLU spent about $200,000 on mailers and phone calls to prospective voters comparing Kobach to Gov. Jeff Colyer in a negative light. While the ACLU said it wasn’t endorsing any candidate, Kobach seized on its activities as support for Colyer — and made it an issue before winning a narrow victory.

In previous court filings, the ACLU attorneys and others have said that they do not believe the video is shielded from release. And the group’s Kansas chapter noted Thursday that it already has been played in a public trial.

“The question for Mr. Kobach is why he is so desperate to hide his own sworn testimony from the people of Kansas,” attorney Orion Danjuma said in a statement.

Kelly campaign spokeswoman Johanna Warshaw also called the position of Kobach’s office “unacceptable” and shows that “his taxpayer funded staff is more concerned with Kris Kobach’s campaign than the state.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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