Kobach Refuses to Recuse Himself from His Own Recount

Kobach Refuses to Recuse Himself from His Own Recount August 10, 2018

I said on Wednesday not to be shocked if Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach refuses to recuse himself from overseeing the recount of his own election battle for the Republican nomination for governor. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. No law requires him to do so and he’s not going to.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that he has no plans to recuse himself from a recount process in the race for governor because any counting of ballots would take place at the county level.

“The recount thing is done on a county level, so the secretary of state does not actually participate directly in the recount,” Kobach said at a campaign event in Topeka after initial results showed him winning by fewer than 200 votes.

“The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes,” Kobach said, contending that his role puts him at arm’s length from the actual recount.

No law requires Kobach to recuse himself, but legal and political experts said that he should do so to maintain trust in the election.

Let’s think about this. There is no reason for him not to recuse himself unless he intends to interfere. If he isn’t going to play any role in it, then it makes sense to have someone else oversee it, someone unconnected with either campaign and no stake in the outcome, like a retired judge. The outcome would be exactly the same but that would eliminate any questions about the legitimacy of the recount. It’s all upside, no downside. Doing it the way he does it leaves only downside — unless there is an upside for him personally, which could only happen if he takes some action to help himself win.

And this is why we have ethics laws. Of course, this is Kris Kobach we’re talking about. He cares not the slightest about ethics. If he were an ethical man, he wouldn’t continually lie about voter fraud and defy legal court orders. To a rational person, that makes him someone who should not be allowed anywhere near political power; to today’s right wing, it makes him a hero. And it’s very much like Trump, who thinks he should be able to control the investigation into himself. No thinking person could possibly believe that’s a reasonable position, but tribalism matters more than rationality to the overwhelming majority of people. Does it help their side? Then it’s good and right and moral. Does it help the other side? Then it’s terrible. Even if it’s the very same thing. Imagine the outcry from Republicans if a Democrat did this?

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