Politics & Government

Kansas official a source of Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claim, top adviser says

President-elect Donald Trump got his unsubstantiated talking point about millions of illegal voters from the top election official in Kansas, according to a Friday interview with Trump’s senior adviser.

During an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s campaign during the final months of the election, told George Stephanopolous that the president-elect “has been talking to different people, including Kris Kobach of Kansas, about voting irregularities or the number of illegal votes that may have been cast, and I believe that he bases his information on that.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump by more than 2.5 million votes nationwide despite losing the electoral vote. Trump has claimed without evidence that he would have won the popular vote if not for illegal votes.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach vigorously defended Trump’s claim about millions of illegal voters Wednesday after certifying the state’s election results. He did not say that he had been the president-elect’s source of that claim, which has been widely disputed by election experts and has no tangible evidence to support it.

“This is the problem with aliens voting and registering. There’s no way you can look at the voter rolls and say this one’s an alien, this one’s a citizen,” Kobach said.

Stephanopoulos pressed Conway repeatedly on the veracity of the claim Friday. She again pointed to Kobach, saying that Trump has “been receiving information about the irregularities and about the illegal votes, particularly from sources, officials like Kris Kobach as I mentioned, but he is messaging to his supporters and to the rest of the country the way he feels.”

Kobach’s office did not immediately return a phone call Friday.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said in a statement that it was “very disturbing to know that the next President is relying on Kris Kobach as a source on voter fraud when Kobach doesn’t have a single shred of evidence to prove it.

The Kansas Democratic Party noted that Kobach’s office has not sought charges against noncitizen voters since he gained prosecutorial power in 2015.

Kobach met with Trump at his private golf club Nov. 20 and carried a document outlining a strategic plan for the Department of Homeland Security. A photograph shows that it included a reference to voting laws.

In Kansas, Kobach has championed a controversial law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, in order to register.

The law, which opponents say puts up hurdles to voting, has faced numerous legal challenges. Judges at both the state and federal level blocked it from being fully enforced this past election after finding Kobach had provided insufficient evidence to support his claims of widespread voter fraud.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3