FEC levies $30K penalty tied to Kobach’s 2020 US Senate bid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Incoming Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach agreed to help pay a $30,000 penalty to resolve a federal complaint over the improper use of a group’s email list during his unsuccessful 2020 campaign for the U.S. Senate.

The Federal Election Commission disclosed Friday that it had approved an agreement with Kobach, his U.S. Senate campaign committee, its treasurer and We Build the Wall — a group that raises money for a privately built wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attorneys for Kobach’s campaign and We Build the Wall signed the agreement in early November — just days before Kobach was narrowly elected attorney general — and the commission approved it on Nov. 16, according to documents available online.

The agreement came more than three years after two watchdog groups, Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center, filed formal complaints about a July 2019 fundraising email for Kobach’s U.S. Senate campaign. Kobach, who is a polarizing advocate of tough immigration measures, lost the Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in August 2020.

Kobach takes office as Kansas attorney general on Jan. 9.

The FEC agreement didn’t say how much each party would pay toward the $30,000 penalty, but records available online show that Kobach’s campaign committee paid $5,060 by check on Dec. 6.

According to documents, the issue was the $2,000 paid by Kobach’s Senate campaign to rent We Build the Wall’s email list. While Kobach’s campaign initially considered that to be a fair market price, the agreement said, it later conceded that it was below market value, resulting in an illegal campaign contribution from We Build the Wall.

Kobach served on the group’s board of directors and as its general counsel but resigned in early September, after the group and Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump were indicted in New York on allegations of money laundering, conspiracy and fraud over a campaign to raise money to build sections of the border wall. Kobach was not implicated.

Kobach declined to comment Friday on the agreement, and the Washington attorney handling it for him did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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