Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's New Counsel Kris Kobach, and His Disingenuous Statements to Fox 10

Kris Kobach, defensive and dodgy in this Fox 10 interview

Fox 10 News has posted a 13 minute interview that reporter Steve Krafft recently did with nativist law prof Kris Kobach, the guy who'll be "training" all 881 of Sheriff Joe's gendarmes on immigration law. It's an interesting watch, if only to take note of some of Kobach's disingenuous replies to Krafft's inquiries.

Asked about criticism from the Arizona Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center concerning his unsavory ties to groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which the SPLC has dubbed a hate group, Kobach claimed, "I don't have a racist bone in my body," and offered as proof his Christian missionary work in Uganda.

The button-down, Matt Damon-esque nativist said he was being smeared by the SPLC because he's opposed to illegal immigration. But he failed to mention that one of the reasons he lost a bid for Congress in 2004 was because of his links to organizations with dubious agendas concerning race.

"Are you troubled by any of the statements or beliefs or activities of anybody at all in FAIR?" asked Krafft.

"No, I'm not," replied Kobach, earnestly. "And if I encountered anyone who was in any way involved in that organization who had engaged in any kind of discrimination, I would immediately disassociate myself. Repeat, I am not working for FAIR in helping Sheriff Joe in any way."

Of course, Kobach is listed as an attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of FAIR, as its "national expert on constitutional law." Aside from doing legal work for FAIR, when Kobach was running for Congress in Kansas' 3rd District in 2003 and 2004, he took $10,000 from a FAIR-related political action committee, the U.S. Immigration Reform PAC, formerly FAIR PAC.

The president of the U.S. Immigration Reform PAC is Mary Lou Tanton, wife of John Tanton, the founder of FAIR. Tanton still sits on FAIR's board of directors.

FAIR is a pretty nasty anti-immigrant enterprise, having taken $1.2 million in the past from the eugenics-loving Pioneer Fund, a group founded on the idea of scientific racism.

As you can read in a piece done for our sister paper the Kansas City Pitch by Leonard Zeskind, author of the monumental history of white nationalism Blood and Politics, Tanton's views of non-whites in this country are extreme and despicable. Zeskind notes,

"In 1986, Tanton published an article in which he argued: `To govern is to populate ... Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? ... As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?'"

Kobach is obviously aware of the SPLC's criticisms of Tanton, and so, it's quite likely he's read the statements attributed to Tanton in various SPLC articles. In one titled "The Nativist Lobby," the SPLC quotes at length Tanton's letters, which are housed in a library at the University of Michigan.

Here's one excerpt from a missive Tanton wrote to a colleague:

"I have no doubt that individual minority persons can assimilate to the culture necessary to run an advanced society, but if through mass migration, the culture of the homeland is transplanted from Latin America to California, then my guess is we will see the same degree of success with governmental and social institutions that we have seen in Latin America."

In the same letter, Tanton wondered "whether the minorities who are going to inherit California (85% of the lower-grade school children are now 'minorities' -- demography is destiny) can run an advanced society?"

To a different pen pal, Tanton opined, "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."

In another piece titled, "The Puppeteer," the SPLC quotes from a series of bigoted memos penned by Tanton and FAIR's then executive director Roger Conner:

"The memos included a demographic punchline that depicted Hispanics as hyperactive breeders and revolted many readers: `[P]erhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down.'

"Linda Chavez, executive director of Tanton creation U.S. English and later a prominent Republican conservative columnist, quit over what she saw as Tanton's bigoted, anti-Latino bias.

"So did several well-known U.S. English board members, including advisory board member Walter Cronkite, who called the memos `embarrassing.'"

Kobach told Fox 10's Krafft that he would "disassociate" himself from FAIR if any of its members had spewed racist rhetoric. So what about FAIR's founder? Doesn't Tanton's filth rise to the bar?

FAIR's not the only tainted organization Kobach's had dealings with. As the Zeskind piece notes, Kobach took a $3,000 contribution from the Gun Owners of America, headed by Larry Pratt, known for his extremist views, and for speaking before at least one militant group riddled with Klan types and Aryan Nations neo-Nazis.

Though Kobach said he did not agree with Pratt's views, he kept the money all the same. In fact, he took more. By the end of the election, Kobach's campaign had pocketed $6,900 total from GOA's PAC, according to FEC filings. That's not counting more than $1,700 in "in kind contributions."  

Zeskind observes in his article that Pratt's so controversial he was forced to resign his position as Pat Buchanan's 1996 campaign co-chair.

Kobach tried a line with Krafft that he's used before to rationalize his dealings with FAIR muck-a-mucks and assorted other extremists and bigots, claiming there are "six degrees of separation" between him and these odious individuals and organizations. Um, try one or two at the most. Kris Kobach ain't no Kevin Bacon. And John Tanton ain't no kindly Daddy Warbucks.

Interestingly, Kobach mentioned that he's done work for County Attorney Andrew Thomas before, writing briefs on the state's human smuggling law for him. He said he earned about $10,000 from the county in 2006. Nice. Makes you wonder how much the nativist law dog will score this go-around.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons