Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s use of private email for a presidential commission could bring him into conflict with a 1-year-old state law meant to increase government transparency.
Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor, told ProPublica last week that he was serving on President Donald Trump’s voting fraud commission as a private citizen rather than as Kansas secretary of state and that he was using his personal gmail account for commission business rather than his official state account.
Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor and vice chair of the commission, said using his state account would be a “waste of state resources.”
Kobach’s spokeswoman, Samantha Poetter, reasserted the claim that Kobach was serving on the commission “in his personal capacity” in an email late Monday afternoon. She indicated that the records were being forwarded to federal personnel.
“Commission members are considered ‘Special Government Employees’ under federal law. The members of the Commission were never issued federal email accounts, but they received ethics training and were instructed that they could continue to use personal email accounts as long as they ensure that all emails relating to commission business are copied or forwarded to a federal government email account,” Poetter said.
“Because Secretary Kobach is serving on the Commission in his personal capacity, not as a representative of the State of Kansas, he determined that it would be inappropriate to use his Kansas state email account. The title ‘Kansas Secretary of State’ follows his name in some printed material simply because it identifies to the reader who he is. It does not indicate that he is conducting Kansas State business while serving on the Commission,” Poetter said, contending that other government officials on the commission are similarly not serving in their official capacities.
“Secretary Kobach’s personal emails concerning the Commission are therefore not subject to KORA, since he is not conducting public business on behalf of the State of Kansas while serving on the Commission,” she said.
Poetter, who serves as spokeswoman for both Kobach’s state office and his campaign, sent the statement from her campaign email address as opposed to her official state account.