With Kobach Gone, Kansas Lawmakers Consider Rescinding Prosecutorial Powers

Jan 29, 2019

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach pushed to get his office the authority to prosecute voting crimes. A bill to rescind those powers got its first hearing Monday.

Republican Rep. Russ Jennings says it only makes sense to do so because not all secretaries of state will be attorneys.

“Why would you grant authority to a non-attorney to make prosecutorial decisions?" Jennings asked. "The ultimate decision is that of the secretary of state right now. So we should un-ring that bell and roll it back.”

No one spoke against the bill, and Kobach did not testify.

The new secretary of state, Scott Schwab, is not a trained lawyer. He wants to forgo the prosecutorial powers to focus on other duties.

The attorney general and local prosecutors also have the authority to pursue voting crimes. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said he would, though he doesn’t expect many cases.

Kobach pressed charges for alleged illegal voting in around a dozen cases.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter@kprkoranda. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link toksnewsservice.org.