Kris Kobach: The Nation's Only Secretary of State Who Can Prosecute Voter Fraud

by | October 15, 2015

By Bryan Lowry

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has filed three voter fraud cases he plans to prosecute, his office confirmed Tuesday.

Kobach filed two cases in Johnson County and one in Sherman County on Friday, said Craig McCullah, the public information officer for the Secretary of State's Office.

The felony complaint against Lincoln L. Wilson in Sherman County alleges that he perjured himself on voting forms and also voted in the past three elections despite not being lawfully registered. His first appearance in court will be on Nov. 3.

Kobach said that his office believes that Wilson's primary residence is Colorado. He accused him of "serial double voting."

Double voting refers to when a person votes in more than one jurisdiction, in this case both Colorado and Kansas.

Sherman County officials had no comment on the case.

The defendants in the Johnson County cases are Steven Gaedtke, 60, and Betty Gaedtke, 61, according to electronic court records. Each faces misdemeanor charges of "unlawful voting" and "advance voting unlawful act."

Their cases are before Judge Charles Droege and Judge Thomas Sutherland respectively. Their first court appearance will be Dec. 3.

"The evidence in both cases is very strong that the individuals in question intentionally voted multiple times in the same election," Kobach said.

Kobach persuaded the Legislature to grant him prosecutorial power during this past legislative session, making him the only secretary of state in the nation to have such authority.

Kobach's critics say he exaggerates the threat of voter fraud. They contend that discretion over these cases is better left to local prosecutors.

During the initial push for the legislation, Kobach presented to the Legislature 18 alleged cases of double voting -- in which a person votes in more than one jurisdiction -- that he said occurred during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The two 2010 cases from Johnson County listed in the documents Kobach presented involved allegations of double voting in Kansas and Arkansas that the county declined to prosecute.

The Johnson County District Attorney's Office did not immediately comment on the case. Kobach said that he believes his office brought new evidence to light in the case that made it clear the cases were ripe for prosecution.

The case from Sherman County involves an allegation of double voting in Kansas and Colorado. It was referred to the FBI, but no action was taken, according to Kobach's March testimony.

Kobach had also hinted that he might pursue a prosecution in Sedgwick County. No case has been filed there.

"These were the first out the door," Kobach said. "We expect to file more cases in the next few months."

He said he could not comment on whether one of the future cases would be in Sedgwick County.

(c)2015 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)