Kobach targets Topeka Senator on first day of governor's race

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Newly minted gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach quickly took a swipe at one longtime Topeka lawmaker.

On his campaign website, Kobach claimed "Topeka has a culture of corruption," which he partially attributes to some legislators having served too long. He then offered an example:

"One leader of the opposition party has been there since Gerald Ford was President."

Kobach used this lawmaker, whom he never identified by name, to bolster his argument that the state should impose term limits on all legislative and statewide elected offices.

The line appeared to be a reference to state Sen. Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka), who was first elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1976. After sixteen years in the lower chamber, Hensley was elected to the state Senate and became Minority Leader in 1996.

The Secretary of State did mention the legislature's top Democrat by name during his official announcement Thursday afternoon in Lenexa, pointing out that he was just eight years old when Hensley was first elected.

In a statement, Hensley called Kobach's criticism 'ironic,' describing Kobach as "nothing more than a part time Secretary of State."

“Kris Kobach is the reason I introduced a bill to prohibit outside employment of certain state officials, such as the Secretary of State," Hensley said. "While he boasts his outside employment, his track record demonstrates that he has fleeced his clients for hundreds of thousands of dollars while leaving them nearly bankrupt from defending unconstitutional laws he drafted."

Beyond longtime lawmakers, Kobach's "culture of corruption" included the lawmakers who he claims are "cashing in on the offices Kansans entrusted them with" by becoming lobbyists.

In response, Hensley called Kobach's position "politically convenient."

"Since 2007, I have introduced bills to close the revolving door. On these bills, Kobach was nowhere to be found," he said.