Kris Kobach, the Republican Secretary of State from Kansas, employs three members of a white nationalist group in his campaign for governor, according to a report in the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The newspaper said in an article late Friday that it learned about the extreme political views of the three men from GOP consultants who have worked in Republicans circles in the state.
The men, all in their early 20s, are members of American Heritage Initiative, a sub-group of Identity Evropa, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a campus-based white supremacy group that builds community from shared racial identity. The SPLC states, members of the group don’t identify as “racists” but rather, “identitarians” interested in preserving Western culture.
According to an expense reports made public this week and reported by the Topeka Capital-Journal, Kurtis Engel, Collin Gustin and Michael Pyles received $1,250 to $3,100 in payments from Kobach’s campaign between June 8 and July 26.
A Kobach spokeswoman confirmed the three men worked for the campaign, mainly knocking doors and delivering yard signs, but denied their involvement in any white nationalist group.
“Secretary Kobach isn’t a racist, and obviously, the campaign will not tolerate racism,” the spokeswoman said. “It is baffling to me, a black woman who serves as Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s spokeswoman, that so many in the media are digging up fake news when they should be investigating real stories.”
The three men attracted controversy over the years with racist comments.
In a discussion group for the Kansas Federation of College Republicans, one of the men posted an image of a student reading “Brown is the New White,” a book about America’s new multicultural majority and the potential voting power the group would have if mobilized.
Under the image he posted a comment spelling out the N-word and wrote:
“These people know they’re not oppressed. They just hate white people and are jealous of us. They know they can bully us with the oppression stuff until they’re granted EXTRA rights, because most have been brainwashed with disingenuous, weaponized, cherry picked history into white guilt. They won’t stop until we grow a spine. The USA is the least racist country in the world. We have so much racial tension because we ALLOW and SUBSIDIZE tens of millions of people from other groups to come here.”
That three members of a white nationalist group would be attracted to Kobach’s campaign is not surprising, given the candidates history of cozying up to hate groups and their policies. In October of 2016 Kobach spoke at a White Nationalist group conference. A vocal Trump supporter, Kobach joined the Trump transition team later that year to advise him on immigration policies.
Trump subsequently was appointed to an 11-member commission to investigate voter fraud in the United States. An ex-member of the commission recently called it “the most bizarre thing I’ve ever been a part of” and accused Trump and Kobach of making false claims that voter fraud was widespread. The group found zero evidence to support the claim.
Kobach has spent the better part of his political career drafting hardline immigration legislation, advancing the idea that local and state officials have the “inherent authority” to enforce draconian federal immigration laws.
He is probably best known for his war on access to the voting ballot. Kobach championed a restrictive voting law that required residents to show documentary proof of citizenship when they register to vote. According to the ACLU, the Kansas law blocked more than 35,000 people in that state from casting a ballot between 2013 and 2016 — about 14 percent of all new voter registrations. In June 2018, a federal judge struck down the law.