FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 17, 2021
DEREK SCHMIDT LOSES “FUTILE” LEGAL BATTLE, LEAVING KANSANS ON THE HOOK FOR $1.9 MILLION IN LEGAL FEES
Rep. Vic Miller: “Congratulations on only losing $2 million of taxpayers’ money”
Topeka, KS — Walking in the footsteps of Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced yesterday that the state — namely Kansas taxpayers — are on the hook for a costly legal battle started by the former Secretary of State over non-existent voter fraud to the tune of nearly $2 million. This is just the latest example of Attorney General Schmidt’s indifference towards Kansans’ taxpayer dollars, and proves he’s anything but fiscally responsible.
“Derek Schmidt prolonged this lawsuit over the last three years, only adding the tab that Kansas taxpayers are left to pay off,” said Emma O’Brien, spokesperson for the KDP. “On top of defending Sam Brownback’s education cuts that tanked the state’s economy and left public schools underfunded, and using his office for political purposes, this is just the latest example of Schmidt’s reckless agenda, and the cost to taxpayers is adding up.”
This comes on the heels of Kansas being ranked in the top 10 for election security, a fact that only further proves Schmidt’s knack for reckless spending after he signed on to a lawsuit that attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election without providing a shred of evidence of the widespread voter fraud alleged.
Read more from the Kansas Reflector here or key points below:
Kansas lawmakers don’t appreciate $1.9M bill for unconstitutional voter restriction
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt told a panel of lawmakers Thursday that he and Secretary of State Scott Schwab mutually agreed to extend a costly, futile legal battle over the state’s unconstitutional restriction on voter registrations all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state is now on the hook for $1.9 million in legal fees owed to the American Civil Liberties Union and a Kansas City, Missouri, law firm after reaching a settlement in September. Only 10% of the cost can be attributed to appeals, an assistant for the attorney general told lawmakers.
Former Secretary of State Kris Kobach convinced lawmakers in 2013 to pass his signature law, which required new voters to present a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, on the basis of baseless voter fraud claims. The law would do nothing to prevent the extremely rare cases of voter fraud in Kansas, which mostly deal with individuals voting in two locations. Instead, the law blocked more than 35,000 eligible voters from participating in Kansas elections.
Federal district Judge Julie Robinson struck down the law in 2018 following an embarrassing trial for Kobach, who was held in contempt of court and ordered to take remedial law classes. He used state funds to pay those costs.
Kobach, a Republican, lost the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly, who had voted in favor of his law as a state senator, later in 2018. When Schwab took office, he and Schmidt continued to defend the law. After an appellate court upheld Robinson’s ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the case.
Senators and representatives on the Committee on Special Claims Against the State expressed frustration with the bill, and being placed in a position where they had to vote to accept the settlement.
“As a Legislature, we’re never hesitant to express our indignation or our displeasure at poor outcomes or decisions that result in some significant expense to Kansas taxpayers, and I think this would also be one of those circumstances,” said Rep. Bradley Ralph, a Dodge City Republican.
“Congratulations on only losing $2 million of taxpayers’ money,” Miller said.
“We need to take this as a lesson to be learned,” Miller said. “When we are restricting voters rights, in whatever defense of that statute might be, we need to remember we have limitations on restricting voters rights.”
Schmidt said the state is under a court order to pay the plaintiffs. If the state failed to do so, he said, the plaintiffs will ask the judge to enforce the order.
“I wouldn’t recommend that we invite that outcome,” Schmidt said.