Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach retreated to Tucker Carlson's show to complain about CNN's Jeffrey Toobin criticizing Kobach's "phony voter suppression commission" and correctly stating that "Kris has devoted his career to stopping black people and poor people from voting."
Instead of asking Kobach about how voter ID laws are designed to unfairly target people of color, Carlson mocked Toobin's claim that Kobach, a man whose campaign website cites a white nationalist writer, is "a bigot". From the November 1 edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight:
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Well, projection is of course the defining fact of the modern left. On virtually every issue they attack their opponents as what they are. They call them racist even as they denounce half the country for its skin color.
Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach is the latest person to learn that lesson the hard way. Over at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin says that because he dislikes Kobach's views, Kobach is of course a bigot.
CARLSON: Is there an argument that -- and we've done this topic a couple times but I don't -- I don't fully understand it. So, the idea is what you just said, if you are trying to make certain that people vote legally and ask for I.D., that's an act of bigotry? What is the -- like, flesh out that argument if you would. I don't understand it.
KOBACH: The argument itself is a racist one. The argument is that somehow because of your skin color you are less likely to have in your wallet a photo I.D., or you are less likely to be able to go to a government office and get a free photo I.D. It's a ridiculous argument, it's been disproven empirically in state after state, but the hard left and now increasingly the entire left keeps making that argument.
And you know Tucker, I went into that debate, that program, thinking we were going to have a cordial debate about birthright citizenship -- but as soon as Jeffrey Toobin started losing the argument, he just out of the blue says, "Well, you've devoted your career to stopping people of color from voting." It's crazy.
On his campaign website, Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach cites a made-up anti-immigrant statistic by white nationalist writer Peter Gemma, who worked for a group that opposes “all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” Gemma has also been involved in the Holocaust denial movement and reportedly praised a leading Holocaust denier for “uncovering documents and evidence some historians don't like to admit.”
Kobach, who is Kansas’ secretary of state and also writes a paid column for Breitbart.com, recently won the state’s Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Media Matters documented last year that in an October 24 Breitbart column, Kobach claimed that “75 percent of those on the most wanted criminals lists in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens” and sourced the statistic to Gemma. The statistic itself is false and has made the rounds on message boards and comment sections over the years. (Gemma, meanwhile, sourced the statistic to a piece on the now-defunct Examiner.com website which, in turn, cited the late white nationalist writer Barbara Coe.)
Kobach’s reliance on a white nationalist writer for a bogus statistic also appears on his campaign website, since he also posts his Breitbart columns there. The campaign has not corrected or removed the citation despite media outlets bringing attention to it starting last October. (The citation also remains on Breitbart.com.)
Kobach’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The Washington Post reported in April 2005 that Gemma organized an event for David Irving, “a well-known Holocaust denier who has claimed that Jews were not killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz”:
Reston resident Peter Gemma, the event's organizer, said the dinner drew 95 attendees of a World War II study group he runs. Gemma is a former Arlington Republican activist who is now affiliated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has been described as a white supremacist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Irving, Gemma said, "has caused waves in the establishment by uncovering documents and evidence some historians don't like to admit."
In 2004, as the Anti-Defamation League wrote, “Gemma introduced notorious Holocaust denier Mark Weber at a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), once the leading Holocaust denial organization in the United States.” The IHR stated on its website that Weber, who is the group's director, spoke about the Iraq War and characterized it as “a war to further the interests of Israel and organized Jewry.”
Gemma previously did work for the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens, including as a member of the editorial advisory board for its Citizens Informer newsletter. The group explains in its “Statement of Principles” that it believes, among other things, that “the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character” and it opposes “all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”
He also edited and wrote an introduction to a book collecting the work of the late white supremacist Sam Francis, who wrote the Council of Conservative Citizens’ “Statement of Principles.” In his introduction, Gemma referred to Francis as his “friend” and “mentor” and praised him for being “a revolutionary thinker -- in the best sense of those terms. His enthusiasm for what’s right with being white (see another previously unpublished speech, chapter 11, 'Equality as a Political Weapon' -- and about every third page of this book), caused him much professional pain.” Gemma concluded that he considered himself “blessed to have been conscripted into building new weaponry for our culture war, stamped with the prestigious Sam Francis brand.”
Gemma also worked as the director of media relations for the white supremacist National Policy Institute. He has written for the white nationalist website VDare, the white nationalist journal The Occidental Quarterly, and he has appeared on the white nationalist radio program The Political Cesspool.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported on August 3 that “Kobach’s gubernatorial campaign employs three men identified as members of a white nationalist group by two political consultants who have worked with Republicans in Kansas.”
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Kris Kobach’s anti-immigrant ordinances have left towns with hefty legal bills and nothing to show for it
Breitbart columnist and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom conservative media have embraced as an authority on all matters immigration, spent years traveling the country pushing anti-immigrant ordinances. He then represented some of those towns in litigation against those ordinances and made hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the laws often didn’t stand up in court, leaving the towns that adopted the measures to pick up the pieces when they were inevitably gutted.
On August 1, ProPublica and The Kansas City Star reported that Kobach, who is now running for governor, convinced numerous “small, largely white municipalities overwhelmed by real or perceived demographic shifts” to pass legislation making it nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to live and work there. Kobach earned legal fees by representing the towns, which “ran up hefty legal costs after hiring him to defend similar ordinances,” most of which fell apart. According to the report, “None of the towns are currently enforcing the laws he helped craft.” One mayor duped by Kobach described his operation as “a sham” and another called it “ambulance chasing,” explaining that Kobach’s attitude was as follows: “Let’s find a town that’s got some issues or pretends to have some issues, let’s drum up an immigration problem and maybe I can advance my political position, my political thinking and maybe make some money at the same time.”
Kobach has applied the same strategy to his media appearances, and conservative outlets are happy to help spread his message. As a Breitbart columnist, Kobach has pushed false claims about the crime rate for undocumented immigrants and spread white nationalist propaganda (Kobach himself has ties to white supremacists). Infowars and The Daily Caller have relied on Kobach’s supposed expertise, and The Gateway Pundit has even referred to him as an “immigration expert.” He also has a cozy relationship with Fox, appearing frequently on Fox & Friends and Tucker Carlson Tonight, where he has cited debunked research to claim that Dreamers -- undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age by their parents -- are prone to violence and has promoted his debunked theory that scores of undocumented immigrants were illegally voting. When Kobach faced an embarrassing trial in which he was reprimanded by a judge for voter suppression, Fox turned the other way, failing to report on his humiliating defeat.
Loading the player reg...
The federal court judge ruled that Kris Kobach's law wrongly prevented people from voting; Fox News barely mentioned the trial
Kansas secretary of state and Breitbart columnist Kris Kobach, who frequently pushes voter fraud misinformation on Fox News, spectacularly failed in his effort to mount a defense for his state’s voter registration law in a federal court trial in March. Federal judge Julie Robinson both struck down the Kansas law and ordered Kobach to take remedial classes after repeatedly violating the judge’s orders, including trying to introduce evidence after Robinson had specifically excluded it. Fox, which has pushed the debunked specter of widespread voter fraud for a decade, provided no coverage of the trial as it progressed between March 6 and March 19.
In 2013, Kansas began enforcing the Kobach-backed Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) law, which required residents who did not have a driver’s license to show proof of citizenship with documents such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport when registering to vote. In May 2016, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson temporarily blocked Kansas from enforcing the law after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit, arguing that the law violated the federal National Voter Registration Act, which requires state voter registration forms to merely “contain an attestation that the applicant meets” eligibility requirements, such as citizenship. According to the ACLU, the law blocked tens of thousands of voter registrations in Kansas.
Kobach, who writes columns for Breitbart.com, has appeared on Fox News numerous times; a search of Nexis transcripts, which cover less than half of Fox’s shows, revealed nearly 60 appearances by Kobach. During a number of these appearances, he pushed an anti-immigrant agenda. He has also discussed the Kansas voter registration law at least twice on Fox News.
Fox has spent years pushing bunk voter fraud claims and supporting Republican efforts to make voting harder in response to the fear they inspire.Considering that history, one might expect the network to closely cover Kobach’s chance to prove the necessity of stringent voter identification laws. But that hasn’t been the case; according to a search of closed-captioning transcripts on SnapStream and iQ media, Fox mentioned the trial only twice, in two short news updates on March 7, for a grand total of 50 seconds of coverage of a trial that stretched over six days.
Perhaps Fox’s lackluster coverage was due to Kobach’s repeated blunders during the trial. Slate legal writer Mark Joseph Stern, in an article headlined “Kris Kobach is a loser,” wrote that the trial was “an unmitigated disaster for Kobach—a merciless rebuke of his professional life’s work.” And HuffPost voting rights reporter Sam Levine noted that a witness Kobach called forward during the trial to supposedly show how easy it was to register without the required documents actually “testified there was a burdensome process” to prove her citizenship and register to vote. (This sloppiness may have been foreseeable, as Kobach has been caught plagiarizing a column for Breitbart; one of Kobach’s citations for that Breitbart column was a white nationalist writer with a reported history of Holocaust denialism.)
The following quotes from the daily coverage of the trial by Kansas City NPR member station KCUR show just how embarrassing Kobach’s performance was:
Day 1: The judge scolded Kobach and his team for improperly trying to introduce new evidence and not knowing courtroom rules.
Day 2: Kobach’s team again tried to improperly introduce evidence
Day 3: Kobach’s legal team again violated courtroom procedure.
Day 5: Kobach still had trouble properly introducing evidence, and one of his witnesses repeatedly interrupted the judge.
Day 6: Kobach team witness Jesse Richman admitted a racist method for flagging potential noncitizen voters and agreed Kobach’s and Trump’s claim of millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election is baseless.
Day 7: The judge said a Kobach lawyer was “being schizophrenic” over failure to properly present witness testimony from a pollster.
Though the trial ended on March 19, that wasn’t the end to Kobach’s problems regarding the ACLU’s lawsuit. On March 20, the same judge, Julie Robinson, presided over a contempt hearing stemming from Kobach’s apparent failure to enforce her May 2016 order to register the tens of thousands of voters blocked from his law. NPR reported that it didn’t go well for Kobach:
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications.
Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in "gamesmanship" and skirting her orders.
In the nearly two years since Robinson ordered him to register those voters, she said, he has forced her and the American Civil Liberties Union to monitor his actions down to the tiniest details in an effort to get him to comply.
"I've had to police this over and over and over again," she said.
Kobach, who hopes to be Kansas' next governor, asked the judge not to find him in contempt. The Republican candidate argued he doesn't control the county officials who carry out logistics such as sending postcards to voters to let them know where their polling stations are.
Robinson, at times sounding livid with the secretary, gave him a dressing-down.
"These people are not second-class registered voters," she told him. "You assured me that they had or they would get the postcards."
On April 18, Judge Robinson ordered Kobach to be held in contempt of court for disobeying her orders to register voters, mandating that Kobach pay for the ACLU’s attorney fees for the case. Two months later, Judge Robinson struck down Kansas’ law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. HuffPost’s Sam Levine reported on June 18 that the judge “found that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The court specifically rejected Kobach and Fox’s argument about voter fraud, finding that the law “acted as a deterrent to registration and voting for substantially more eligible Kansans than it has prevented ineligible voters from registering to vote.”
Judge Robinson additionally “sanctioned Kobach with six hours of continuing legal education related to rules of civil procedure or evidence” due to his repeated violations of his rules throughout the trial.
The hosts of the white supremacist show Fash the Nation also claimed that appointing Kris Kobach as Secretary of Homeland Security "sounds like a good plan"
Following White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's disparaging comments against undocumented immigrants, the white supremacist hosts of the podcast Fash the Nation praised his remarks, and added that Kelly referred to people who give their kids "made up bullshit names."
During an interview with NPR, Kelly claimed that undocumented immigrants are "not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously, that’s a big thing. ... They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills." On the latest episode of the racist podcast Fash the Nation -- produced by white nationalist podcast hub The Right Stuff -- the hosts (who go by the names Jazzhands McFeels and Marcus Halberstram) agreed with Kelly's remarks and claimed that counterarguments pointing to Kelly's Irish immigrant heritage should be discounted, as "the Irish are European. We're not talking about Europeans. We're talking about third-world primitives who basically are still practicing human sacrifice in many ways."
From the May 12 edition of The Right Stuff's Fash the Nation:
MARCUS HALBERSTRAM (HOST): Reading ahead a little bit, I see this article: "John Kelly says undocumented immigrants don't have skills to assimilate into U.S. society." Now this is obviously true and should be [a] completely uncontroversial statement but -- I'm surprised I didn't hear about this, some screeching about this on like Raw Story or whatever.
JAZZHANDS MCFEELS (HOST): Oh, well, this has been at least all of Friday and possibly part of Thursday. This and the White House staffer saying that, "well, McCain is dying anyway," have been like -- have been the premier stories on cable news. MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, everything has been wall to wall John Kelly. And of course, they're doing the usual bit of "well, John Kelly's Irish immigrant ancestors weren't welcome here either" and all that, the usual nonsense. And of course, The Washington Post tried to roll out this story. Of course, the headline was "John Kelly disparages rural people in America, Trump's base." That's not who he was talking about, at all. But of course, they run with that to make it seem like, you know -- low info voters will buy into that and think that Kelly's turning his back on white ruralites but that's just not the case, he's talking about --
HALBERSTRAM: Dude, if anyone ever busts out the "mah Irish" argument, you just respond by saying, "yeah and if the Irish still -- didn't speak the correct language and wore garish, outlandish clothing, and gave made up bullshit names to their children, and bastardized the language completely when they did learn it, everybody would still hate them.”
HALBERSTRAM: End of story.
MCFEELS: Yeah. and the Irish are European. So, we're not talking about Europeans. We're talking about third-world primitives who basically are still practicing human sacrifice in many ways, heads on spikes on the border and stuff like that.
HALBERSTRAM: People who never achieved any sort of civilization. It's the most like -- if society weren't all so like Jew-deized, this is just common sense, like people who can't form the basis of civilization on their own, it's like yeah, sure, they can come here, perform some sort of function and perhaps even flourish in the system that we have built, but you can't have too many of these people here because then their civilizational inability starts to manifest itself.
MCFEELS: Yeah and with the way that the judicial system has been set up and the legal system, and the laws and legislation, you can't have any of them here because you get one in here and then that's like the anchor to get like all the rest of them with chain migration and everything else. And it's just a terrible thing, and of course, the other thing is and the argument we've made many times and others have made this argument as well, is that not only are these people not compatible with modern society, is that they're about to be made obsolete by automation. So the last thing, and this is looking far down the road but, 20 years from now when a lot of this stuff, farming and everything else becoming automated ... These people are gonna be -- what is their purpose here?
HALBERSTRAM: One more scheme to get a little cheap labor and then you end up with this seething underclass of like, alien peoples. Gee, why does this sound so familiar?
MCFEELs: Yeah, obsolete farm equipment is not what we need. Now, this is the quote from John Kelly. Now, he sounds "cucky" at first but you'll see what he really means here. … [reads quote of John Kelly] ... I mean, you can't really argue with that, and actually, a high number of them are criminals. Even if they're not in MS13, they're stealing identities, they're doing all manners of things before they even get to the United States. And by virtue of the fact that they're not sending their best, we're getting the worst people. So the ones that Mexico wants to keep are the ones that work hard and that pay their taxes and that don't commit crimes, so most of those people, whatever number there are of them, are staying in Mexico. The worst ones are coming here.
HALBERSTRAM: Yeah, I'm not on Twitter right now, otherwise I'd track that dude [Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post] down and have juxtaposed like, a normal looking guy in a plaid shirt and a trucker hat versus some like squat Indian, like, this is what we're talking about bro, and you know it as well as I do.
During the show, the white supremacist hosts floated making Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kobach, an anti-immigration activist who is also a Breitbart columnist, has a history of criminalizing immigrants and has ties to white supremacy.
Kris Kobach, Kansas Republican secretary of state and anti-immigration activist, pushed a highly dubious study from criminologist John Lott on Fox & Friends to suggest that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are highly prone to criminal activity.
Kobach referenced Lott’s recent study about crime in Arizona to suggest that DACA recipients’ “criminality is twice that of the comparable American population.” Lott is a discredited figure whose studies have been debunked by academics and dismissed by experts.The study also contradicts years of sociological research finding that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens and ignores the fact that in Arizona, “people who look ‘foreign’ are more likely to be stopped for minor infractions,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). And according to ThinkProgress, “roughly 0.3 percent” of DACA recipients have been “involved in criminal behavior.” During the segment, Kobach listed other lies about DACA, such as calling it "amnesty" and saying that DACA recipients take jobs away from U.S. citizens.
From the January 17 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Kris, you know what the raging debate now is. The Democrats want DACA. The Republicans say in exchange for legitimate border security, end of chain migration, end of the lottery system. And we're going to be looking at a lockout because no one can agree. What's your solution?
KRIS KOBACH: DACA, the amnesty for nearly a million illegal aliens -- the average age is 24. Their criminality is twice that of the comparable American population. We just saw a study out of Arizona. It's bad for America. So if we were to grant a DACA amnesty, you'd have to have, in my opinion, all the things that President Trump outlined and you just mentioned, plus E-Verify. E-Verify right now is only mandatory in a few states. You'd have to make it mandatory everywhere to ensure that the flood of illegal aliens who are going to come in -- every time we have an amnesty, it brings another flood of illegal aliens -- we've got to make sure that they aren’t stealing jobs from Americans as well. So you'd have to have E-Verify in addition to all those other law enforcement measures.
Kobach is a leader of Trump's voter suppression commission and a paid Breitbart columnist
On Breitbart News Daily, Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the Trump administration’s commission investigating baseless claims of rampant voter fraud, estimated that “4,000 people who are from out of state and never actually moved to New Hampshire … voted there” in the 2016 election using out-of-state driver’s licenses. In fact, New Hampshire’s voter ID law permits out-of-state driver’s licenses to be used as proof of identity when registering to vote, an option that college students often exercise. And after President Donald Trump and other conservatives raised earlier claims of voter fraud in New Hampshire over the use of out-of-state licenses to vote, New Hampshire Public Radio matched many of the out-of-state license users to college towns.
Kobach, who has a history of extremism, ties to white supremacists, and promotion of misinformation on immigration and voting issues, has previously made bizarre claims about voter fraud, voter intimidation, and undocumented immigrants voting. In one instance, he claimed that a dead man had voted in 2006 who was later found to in fact be alive, and he said in another interview that “We may never know” whether Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote in 2016.
From the December 8 edition of SiriusXM Patriot's Breitbart News Daily:
STEPHEN BANNON (HOST): Just real briefly, on your voter integrity commission, you had a stunning revelation up in New Hampshire. Can you just get people up to speed on where you stand right now, and maybe speak a minute or two about New Hampshire?
KRIS KOBACH: Yeah, sure. So New Hampshire is one of those states that has same-day voter registration, which is something I think is a disaster because if you allow people to walk in on the day of election and say here I am, here's my name, take my word for it, and I'm not -- and also take my word for the fact that I just moved to your state. It leads to all kinds of problems. New Hampshire found on Election Day this past November that 5,300 people -- well actually, over 6,000 people, six and a half thousand -- used an out-of-state driver's license as their ID on that day. Then they went back and checked almost a year later in September, this past September, and found that 5,300 of those people still have not established New Hampshire residence. They had not gone ahead and gotten a New Hampshire license, they had registered any vehicle in New Hampshire. And it appeared that these individuals are probably not residing in New Hampshire. That's a really -- now it's theoretically possible that some of them might be out-of-state students who do not own a vehicle, and through some of the vagaries of New Hampshire law, it might qualify as a domicile in New Hampshire eligible to vote. But even if you say, let's knock off another 1,000. Let's say it's only 4,000 people who are from out of state and never actually moved to New Hampshire, yet voted there, that's extraordinary because in the Electoral College contest, New Hampshire went to Clinton by a 2,700 vote margin. The New Hampshire U.S. senator, [Maggie] Hassan, beat the Republican, [Kelly] Ayotte, by just over 1,000 votes. And so you're talking about the margin of victory being lower, less than the number of likely individuals who never actually moved to New Hampshire, but voted on Election Day using an out-of-state driver's license.
Trump adviser Kris Kobach recently used the number to demonize undocumented immigrants as dangerous criminals
A fake statistic about undocumented immigrants dominating “most wanted” lists hit its zenith last month when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach used it in a Breitbart.com column. Variations of that statistic have appeared in countless media outlets since 2006 to demonize undocumented immigrants as dangerous, Media Matters found.
In his column, Kobach claimed that “75 percent of those on the most wanted criminals lists in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.” That's a made-up number. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2009 -- when the statistic was previously making the rounds -- that Los Angeles Police Department “officers confirmed” that the statistic is fabricated. A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department similarly told Media Matters that the statistic did not come from its department.
The overall premise that undocumented immigrants are more dangerous than those born in the United States is also false. The New York Times reported that “several studies, over many years, have concluded that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States. And experts say the available evidence does not support the idea that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate share of crime.”
As with much of the fake information passed around the internet, it’s difficult to track the origins of the “most wanted” claim. The number appears to have started appearing on the internet around spring 2006 and originally just included Los Angeles. In April 2007, The Arizona Republic reported that the statistic is wrong and part of a “widely circulated e-mail.” It has also appeared all over the internet, including on message boards and comment sections.
But the number’s spread has also been fueled by its appearance in media outlets in the past decade.
Variations of the "most wanted" claim have appeared in numerous conservative op-eds, including in national outlets like The Blaze (Jennifer Kerns), Infowars (Chuck Baldwin), Human Events and FrontPageMagazine.com (Don Feder), and Newsmax (Pat Boone, Jim Meyers, and Armstrong Williams). And it’s appeared in op-eds in local outlets such as the Sierra Vista Herald, West Hawaii Today, and Lexington Herald Leader, as well as in letters to the editor in papers in places like Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
In a July 2015 post on his now-defunct website, former talk show host Jason Lewis -- currently a Republican U.S. congressman representing Minnesota -- used the statistic to defend President Donald Trump.
The number also appeared in an August 24 Washington Examiner piece by conservative pundit Jennifer Kerns, who had previously used it in The Blaze. Kerns, who did not respond to a request for comment, worked on Fox News’ presidential debate coverage and for various Republican causes over the years.
Media Matters contacted the Examiner, which looked into the piece and found that it contained several statistics, including the “most wanted” number, that couldn’t be verified. The publication subsequently removed the offending paragraphs and added the following corrections note:
Corrections: The original version of this piece claimed that FBI statistics showed 95 percent of arrest warrants issued in Los Angeles are for illegal immigrants, that 75 percent percent of those on the "most wanted" list in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Albuquerque, N.M. were illegal immigrants, and that 53 percent of burglaries in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas were committed by illegal aliens. None of those claims could be verified using FBI data.
The piece also claimed that a United Nations report found that 97 percent of illegal immigrants in the U.S. entered via the southern border. That report could not be located.
The piece also claimed that 25 percent of inmates in California prisons were Mexican nationals. The report linked to actually says 12.7 percent of the California prison population is made up of illegal aliens.
Kris Kobach’s use of the number in an October 24 Breitbart.com piece is perhaps the most notable given his influence on President Trump and today’s immigration debate. As the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School noted, Kobach “has been a key architect behind many of the nation’s anti-voter and anti-immigration policies,” including “Arizona’s controversial 2010 ‘show me your papers’ law,” and serves as an advisor to President Donald Trump and as the vice chair of the so-called Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.
Kobach sourced the statistic to a 2013 ConstitutionParty.com piece by Peter B. Gemma; the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that Gemma is a white nationalist who has reportedly been “part of the American Holocaust denial movement.”
Kobach's piece -- which has gone uncorrected despite inquires to his office and Breitbart.com -- unfortunately indicates that the zombie statistic will live on. On its Facebook page, Breitbart used Kobach’s column to create the following “fact”:
That Facebook post and Kobach’s piece have been shared thousands of times so far.
Update: Kobach's citation for one of his anti-immigrant falsehoods is a white nationalist writer
President Donald Trump adviser and Breitbart.com columnist Kris Kobach cut and pasted into his October 24 column anti-immigrant bullet points that have appeared in random message boards, Yahoo! Answers, and chain letters for more than 10 years.
Kobach is a paid columnist for the toxic right-wing website while simultaneously serving as Kansas’ secretary of state and as the vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity -- an arrangement that has drawn criticism from ethics experts. He has frequently smeared undocumented immigrants in the media.
In his October 24 Breitbart.com piece, Kobach made false claims about the crime rate for undocumented immigrants, writing, “There is overwhelming evidence that it is much higher than the crime rate for U.S. citizens. Illegal aliens commit a disproportionate share of crimes” (emphasis in original). As The New York Times and many others have reported, “Several studies, over many years, have concluded that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States. And experts say the available evidence does not support the idea that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate share of crime.”
Kobach then listed several supposed facts purporting to support his false anti-immigrant claim, including these two bullet points:
- 75 percent of those on the most wanted criminals lists in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.
- More than 53 percent of burglaries investigated in the border region states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are committed by illegal aliens.
Kobach linked to ConstitutionParty.com and ConservativeTruth.org for his sourcing, respectively. Both statistics are longtime claims that have been made repeatedly in chain letters and message boards.
His bullet point about the "most wanted" list has appeared virtually word-for-word in letters, comment sections, Yahoo! Answers, and message boards going back over a decade. For instance, the claim was reposted to the Free Republic message board in November 2006 and was taken from CaPoliticalNews.com, which claimed the numbers were from “INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants.”
The Los Angeles Times debunked a variation of that claim in 2009, writing that the LAPD confirmed that the statistic didn’t exist (this section was updated with additional information from the Times):
2. "95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens . . . "
We traced this "fact" to a 2004 op-ed in The Times by Heather Mac Donald of the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Mac Donald said "officers" told her about the warrants. She conceded that there were no such data in official reports but suggested the LAPD "top brass" was hiding the truth.
I called the LAPD's press office, which contacted the department's Fugitive Warrant Section. Officers confirmed that the statistics in item No. 2 and No. 3, which follows, don't exist.
3. "75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens."
We traced this figure to something circulating on the Internet under the name "the 2006 (First Quarter) INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants." The "report" contains similar figures for Phoenix, Albuquerque and other cities. But it isn't an actual government document. The INS ceased to exist in 2003, after the Department of Homeland Security was created.
There's something really disturbing about a work of fakery meant to tarnish an entire class of people. You wonder what kind of person would pen such a thing.
Kobach's other bullet point about burglaries has similarly appeared virtually word-for-word all over the internet for years. Kobach’s sourcing for that claim comes from ConservativeTruth.org, which claims it’s from “the Foreign National Crime Information Center.” That site posted the chain email statistics about supposed undocumented crimes. But it has the following disclaimer about those statistics: “DISREGARD THE BELOW STATISTICS, THEY ARE not current AND SEVERAL YEARS OLD.”
UPDATE: Kobach’s Breitbart column also cited a piece by a white nationalist who has reportedly been “part of the American Holocaust denial movement.”
Kobach’s sourcing for his claim that “75 percent of those on the most wanted criminals lists in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens” is from a piece by Peter B. Gemma for the ConstitutionParty.com.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, Gemma is a racist writer who has worked for the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens and has been a “part of the American Holocaust denial movement.” From the civil rights group’s 2013 profile of Gemma:
Virtually unnoticed, Gemma, who lives in Florida, has recently joined the governing national executive committee of the Constitution Party as its eighth living member (party founder Howard Phillips, who died earlier this year, is also listed). Although Gemma is described by the party website as “a veteran political and fundraising consultant” who was a staffer on three presidential campaigns, he is in fact a white nationalist with deep ties to a whole array of racist hate groups.
For years, he was the head of design, marketing and advertising for the racist tabloid of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) — a group that has complained that non-white immigration was turning the U.S. population into a “slimy brown mass of glop” and described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” He also was the media coordinator for the CCC’s Capital Region for several years.
He is part of the American Holocaust denial movement, reviewing a book by British denier David Irving for the racist Occidental Quarterly journal, organizing a 2005 speaking event for Irving, and giving a speech at the denialist Institute for Historical Review, according to the Institute for Research on Education & Human Rights.
In 2000, Gemma appeared with David Duke and Don Black, both former leaders of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, at an event meant to raise money for the fascist, whites-only British National Party, according to the same report.
In its four issues published in 2013, the anti-immigrant journal The Social Contract (TSC), published by racist John Tanton, the founder of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement, featured a number of articles penned by anti-immigrant extremists. Peter Gemma, a former editorial advisory board member of the Citizens Informer the CofCC’s publication contributed three articles to TSC. In 2004, Gemma introduced notorious Holocaust denier Mark Weber at a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), once the leading Holocaust denial organization in the United States.
Right-wing and fringe media outlets and figures, including Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Trump administration’s election integrity commission, are citing a Washington Times article about several thousand New Hampshire voters using out-of-state driver’s licenses to register to vote to bolster conservative claims of fraud and say that Republicans may have actually won the state. But journalists and election experts shot down these claims of voter fraud and explained that New Hampshire’s voter ID law permits out-of-state driver’s licenses to be used as proof of identity when voting, an option that college students often exercise.