Kobach, Arizona & SB 1070

July 15, 2010 11:18 am ET

Kris Kobach has achieved national stardom with his work on Arizona's controversial SB 1070 legislation.  In addition to creating a bill that has brought a lot of attention to the issue of immigration, Kobach left the residents of Maricopa County, AZ with a $13,000 legal bill.

SB 1070

Kobach Helped Draft Arizona Immigration Law SB 1070.  According to Time: "Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law professor...helped write [SB 1070]. He believes it will withstand constitutional challenge...'There are some things that states can do and some that states can't do, but this law threads the needle perfectly...In the bill, Arizona only penalizes what is already a crime under federal law,' says Kobach, a Yale Law School graduate and onetime counsel to former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. 'That constitutes concurrent enforcement in legal terms, which the courts have said is permissible.'" [Time, 4/16/10]

Kobach Helped State Sen. Pearce Draft SB 1070 Free Of Charge. According to the Lawrence Journal-World: "The new state law in Arizona, which Kobach helped put together, has been under fire from civil rights advocates, President Obama and even some Republican politicians...Kobach's help on the new state immigration law in Arizona was done for free, he said. 'I want these states to draft laws that will stand up in court,' he said...Kobach said he was asked to help out on the Arizona law by state Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, Ariz." [Lawrence Journal-World, 4/28/10]

SB 1070 Includes Clause That Benefits Lawyers Who Defend Immigration Laws In Court. Article 8 of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 provides: "a person may bring an action in superior court to challenge any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that adopts or implements a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law," and that "if there is a judicial finding that an entity has violated this section, the court shall order...that the person who brought the action recover court costs and attorney fees." [S.B. 1070, Article 8, signed into law 4/23/10; pg. 2, emphasis added]

Kobach Says Opponents Of SB 1070 Want Undocumented Immigrants To "Sign Up For Obamacare" and "Vote Democratic." According to the Associated Press: "Kobach blasted what he called the 'open borders crowd' for not recognizing the economic, social and cultural costs of illegal immigration. Opponents of the Arizona law, he said, 'want them to stay here, they want them to sign up for Obamacare, they want them to get amnesty and they want them to vote (Democratic).'" [Associated Press, 5/2/10, via Lexis Nexis, parenthesis original]

Kobach Wrote Language To Ensure City Ordinances Could Be Used To Question A Person's Residency Status

SB 1070 Amended To "Specify That Possible Violations Of Local Civil Ordinances Can Lead To Questioning On Immigration Status." According to KVOA.com: "Gov. Brewer signed a bill Friday that would make changes to the controversial immigration law, passed just one week ago...Another change would specify that possible violations of local civil ordinances can lead to questioning on immigration status." [KVOA.com, 4/30/10]

Kobach Email: Civil Ordinance Language Could Be Used To "Initiate Queries" Based On Things Like "Cars On Blocks In The Yard." In an e-mail to state Senator Russell Pearce obtained by Wonk Room, Kobach stated: "When we drop out 'lawful contact' and replace it with 'a stop, detention or rest [sic], in the enforcement [sic] a violation of any title or section of the Arizona code' we need to add 'or any county or municipal ordinance.' This will allow police to use violations of property codes (ie. [sic] cars on blocks in the yard) or rental codes (too many occupants of a rental accommodation) to initiate queries as well." [Wonk Room, 4/30/10, parenthesis original, emphasis added]

American Immigration Lawyers Association President-Elect: Civil Ordinance Language In SB 1070 "Would Appear To Allow Profiling." David Leopold, the president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stated in an e-mail to Wonk Room: "Knowing full well that the phrase 'lawful contact' must go (a flip flop from the position he took yesterday in the New York Times) he recommends tweaking the law in a manner that would appear to allow profiling. Why else would he be interested in using property or rental codes to ferret out undocumented people? Is he aware of some credible study that shows unauthorized aliens from say Ireland or Canada, or some other country tend to put their cars on blocks and/or overcrowd apartments?" [Wonk Room, 4/30/10, parentheses original]

Kobach & Maricopa County, AZ Immigration Law

Maricopa County, AZ Has A Population Of Over 4 Million.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maricopa County, AZ had a population of 4,023,132 in 2009.  [U.S. Census Bureau, accessed 7/13/10]

Kobach Was Hired "In Anticipation Of Litigation Arising From...The U.S. Department Of Justice Police Practices Investigation." The Phoenix New Times reported: "According to internal county communications, Kobach, a law prof at the University of Missouri -- Kansas City and currently a candidate for Kansas Secretary of State, was specifically hired as an 'immigration policy expert, in anticipation of litigation arising from or related to the U.S. Department of Justice police practices investigation.'" [Phoenix New Times, 6/10/10]

June 2010: Kobach's Contract With Maricopa County Cancelled By County Attorney. According to the Lawrence Journal-World: "Kobach...was providing legal advice to Maricopa County on immigration issues. But Kobach said he has been terminated from that job after the former Maricopa County Attorney, Andrew Thomas, left office last month to run for Arizona attorney general...The Maricopa County Attorney's office had engaged the Phoenix law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, Stewart, P.C. and given that firm permission to obtain legal advice from Kobach. On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office confirmed that it had ended the contact [sic] with the law firm and, therefore, Kobach." [Lawrence Journal-World, 6/9/10]

New Maricopa County Attorney Will Stop Using Human Smuggling Law To Charge Illegal Immigrants With Felonies. According to the Lawrence Journal-World: "The new Maricopa Attorney 'takes a very different view of enforcing Arizona's human smuggling' law, Kobach said. The new Maricopa Attorney, Rick Romley, said he would stop using a state human smuggling law to prosecute illegal immigrants on felony charges as conspirators once the state's new law cracking down on illegal immigrants takes effect on July 29, according to an article by The Associated Press. Romley said he must use lesser charges under the new law instead of a controversial interpretation of a 5-year-old law used by his predecessor, AP reported." [Lawrence Journal-World, 6/9/10]

Kobach Defended Arizona Law That Made Immigrant Smuggling A State Crime. According to Mother Jones: "Arizona state officials first retained Kobach in 2006 to defend a law that made immigrant smuggling a state crime. That initiative was spearheaded by the now-infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose heavy-handed tactics against prisoners and immigrants in Maricopa County have been the target of thousands of lawsuits, as well as a Department of Justice investigation. Kobach successfully defended the smuggling law in federal court, and went on to train Arpaio's officers in immigration enforcement strategies." [Mother Jones, 5/7/10]

Kobach Hired To Train Officers In Immigration Enforcement

February 2010: Kobach Was Hired To Train Maricopa County Officers In Immigration Enforcement. According to the Arizona Republic: "Every Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy will receive training on the authority of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law under a program Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Monday afternoon. All 881 sworn deputies in the agency will receive two hours of initial training, but sheriff's administrators said the instruction will become part of the deputies' ongoing education requirements ... Arpaio partnered with Kris Kobach, a law professor from Kansas City, who will conduct the training." [Arizona Republic, 2/8/10]

  • The Training "Would Include Information On Racial Profiling." According to the Arizona Republic: "[Sheriff] Arpaio said the training would include information on racial profiling, an accusation the Sheriff's Office has fought since deputies began stepped-up immigration enforcement efforts in 2008." [Arizona Republic, 2/8/10]

ACLU: Kobach Is "Not Qualified To Offer The Training." According to the Arizona Republic: "Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said Kobach is not qualified to offer the training. 'He's a private individual, he's not a law-enforcement officer, he's not certified to represent the federal government or to train law enforcement officers on how to enforce immigration law,' she said." [Arizona Republic, 2/8/10]

Kobach Has Run Up Nearly $13,000 In Expenses Billed To The County

Maricopa County Was Paying Kobach $300 Per Hour For His Services Plus $1,500 Per Month Retainer. According to the Phoenix New Times: "Kobach's contract was for $300 per hour, with a retainer of $1,500 per month beginning in October 2009. He charged a $600 retainer fee for work already done, supposedly in September 2009." [Phoenix New Times, 6/10/10]

  • Maricopa County Was Also Responsible For Any Related Expenses Incurred By Kobach. According to the Phoenix New Times: "[Kobach's] contract made clear that the county was on the hook for any of Kobach's expenses, including, 'costs of investigation, telephone expenses, postage, court costs, mileage, travel expenses, hotel costs, and any other necessary costs incurred or advanced...on behalf of client.'" [Phoenix New Times, 6/10/10]

As Of June 2010, Kobach's Cost To Maricopa County Was Estimated At $12,600 Plus Expenses And Travel. According to the Phoenix New Times: "Assuming Kobach gets his retainer for the month of May, he could have at least $12,600 coming to him from the county, plus expenses, plus travel. When I got the internal communications mentioned above through a public records request, he was already due the cost of a trip to Phoenix, likely to appear at an Arpaio press conference in early February." [Phoenix New Times, 6/10/10]

Maricopa County $2 Million Over Their Civil Litigation Budget.  AZCentral.com reported: "With two months to go in the fiscal year, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office is nearly $2 million over its $4 million budget for civil litigation... Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson said the overrun was caused by costly outside attorney fees and personnel costs. It is rare for county agencies to spend more than their budget allows; generally, one to two departments go over budget each year." [AZCentral.com, 5/5/10]

Other Arizona Statues

Kobach Defended Arizona Statute That Cancelled Business Licenses Of Employers Who Repeatedly Hire Illegal Immigrants. According to the New York Times, Kobach "helped Arizona defend a statute that cancels the business licenses of employers who repeatedly hire illegal immigrants; it was upheld by the federal courts." [New York Times, 7/20/09]

Kobach Helped To Draft Arizona Law That Would Fine Employers For Not Checking Immmigration Status Of Potential Hires. According to Mother Jones, Kobach "also helped write another controversial Arizona law that would fine employers if they fail to check the immigration status of potential hires. The law, which Kobach believes is 'much more sweeping in scope and arguably has a greater potential impact on illegal immigration' than Arizona's 2010 legislation, is awaiting review by the Supreme Court." [Mother Jones, 5/7/10]

2008: Federal Judge Ruled That Arizona Illegal Immigrant Hiring Law Did Not Conflict With Federal Law. According to the New York Times: "a federal judge in Arizona ruled against a lawsuit by construction contractors and immigrant organizations who sought to halt a state law that went into effect on Jan. 1 imposing severe penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The judge, Neil V. Wake of Federal District Court, methodically rejected all of the contractors' arguments that the Arizona law invaded legal territory belonging exclusively to the federal government." [New York Times, 2/10/08]