Kobach takes down government ethics database


Kris Kobach

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach vowed to fight the “culture of corruption” in Kansas. Then he took down one of the most important tools in the state related to government ethics.

In a Nov. 27 guest letter to the Kansas City Star, Kobach vowed to fight the “culture of corruption in Kansas’ capitol.

His letter followed a forceful investigative series by the Star exposing the uniquely secretive government in Kansas, where public records are hard to obtain.

Thursday, Kobach’s office took down one of the most important, publicly available databases on the outside business interests of state government officials — including Wichita State employees — because the website Gizmodo reported on the fact that the database has made the last four digits of thousands of Kansas state workers’ Social Security numbers available to the public for more than a decade.

The move came three days after Kobach defended the release of partial Social Security numbers for nearly 1,000 Kansas voters as part of his search for fraudulent voters to the state of Florida.

The database gave the public access to statements of substantial interests for elected officials and other state personnel.

The forms give an overview of the financial interests of state employees and reveal potential conflicts of interest, which is one of the things Kobach said he would like to remove from state politics in his letter to the Star.

“Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach does not believe that the last four digits of a person’s social security numbers should be part of this publicly available information,” Kobach’s spokesperson Samantha Poetter said in a statement to the Star.

“The statements are still available for someone to request in person pursuant to Kansas statute,” Poetter said.

“Secretary Kobach takes security measures very seriously and is looking for a solution that would allow this sensitive information to be redacted, while still following the rule of law. (Statements of substantial interest) are an important tool in ensuring government transparency and any solution should reflect this fact.”