New revelations from Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross show that the Republican nominee for Kansas Governor, Kris Kobach, was involved in a scheme to rig the 2020 census to help the GOP:
Despite earlier saying he knew nothing about how the effort was orchestrated within the White House, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has revealed that he does remember putting Steve “Let-them-call-you -racist” Bannon, the white nationalist former top advisor to President Trump, in touch with then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in order to provide guidance about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census—an effort that drew outrage from voting rights advocates when it was introduced by the administration earlier this year.
“Big big deal,” tweeted journalist Josh Marshall, in reaction to the news. “So the white nationalists—Bannon and Kobach—are the guys behind the plan to rig the census to disenfranchise blue state voters.
Journalist Ari Berman, called the revelation—contained in a filing by the Department of Justice as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the administration—a “smoking gun” in proving that the origin story of the policy spun by the White House was false and that it was, as many critics assumed, conceived as a conscious effort to impact future redistricting of communities by suppressing participation in the next census by immigrants and others.
The scheme being referenced was an effort by the Trump administration to add a question to the 2020 census that would ask if the respondent was a U.S. citizen. This question has not been a part of the census since 1950. While the question may seem innocuous, the effect it would have is to reduce the participation in the census by recent immigrants, legal immigrants, who are often cautious about responding to government questioning for fear of revocation of their legal status.
“In addition, adding this question would jeopardize the accuracy of the 2020 Census in every state and every community by deterring many people from responding,” said the letter. “The question is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns in all households — native- and foreign-born, citizens and non-citizens — about the confidentiality of information provided to the government and how that information might be used.”
Anti-immigrant sentiment since the 2016 election has already led to heightened fear in immigrant communities, which concerns Catholic social justice advocates.
“To add a citizenship question to the census short form will exacerbate some very real fears and lead to faulty census results,” said Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. “Here again, the vulnerable will suffer since they most likely will be under-counted. As Catholics, our faith calls us to action [and] to the public square to speak for those whose voices are not being heard.”
The revelation by Wilbur Ross that Steve Bannon was also involved in this scheme shows that the main purpose was almost certainly to reduce participation in the census by immigrant households. This reduction in participation by immigrant households could have the effect of severely under-counting populations in areas that have historically voted for Democrats. It could lead to Democratic leaning states being given less representatives in the U.S. Congress, as well as less electoral votes. It is, basically, another attempt by the GOP to cheat to win.
It is not surprising that Kris Kobach would be involved, either. He has been trying to cheat to win in Kansas for years.
The judge said Kobach failed to show there had been a “substantial number” of people who managed to register to vote in Kansas without being U.S. citizens.
Starting in 2013, people who wanted to vote in Kansas needed to produce documents proving their U.S. citizenship, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, naturalization papers, a passport.
Robinson said that law violated the National Voter Registration Act and the 14th Amendment, in a 118-page ruling that decided two consolidated cases.
Kobach’s “proof of citizenship” policy as Attorney General of Kansas, like other similar Republican efforts, was about suppressing the vote of people who might vote for Democrats. Power was the driving force. And Kris Kobach was not concerned with legalities in the slightest. Consider his actions during the trial about his policies, when he repeatedly failed to comply with court orders:
In the ruling handed down on Wednesday, US District Judge Julie Robinson stated that the court found “clear and convincing evidence” that Kobach disobeyed court orders “when he failed to ensure that voter registration applications covered by the preliminary injunction order became fully registered.”
Is this the kind of Governor the people of Kansas want? Someone who finds no problem with breaking laws and defying courts if it helps him consolidate power? Is this the kind of Governor who will represent all of Kansas? Or only those who voted for him? It hasn’t been long since Kansas was nearly bankrupted by another power-hungry right wing acolyte, Sam Brownback. Kris Kobach would be Sam Brownback on steroids.