Documents obtained by the Associatied Press show Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach “frequently” used a state-owned King Air 350 executive aircraft to promote voter ID efforts outside of Kansas, and to speak at Republican political events across the state. At taxpayer expense.
The Associated Press used open record requests to document thousands of dollars Kobach spent to fly more than 4,350 miles during a 15-month period.
Several flights appeared to either offer no benefit to Kansas or have little connection to Kobach’s official duties. On some trips, the state business coincided with Republican Party functions where he spoke, and his family often flew with him.
The most frequent flyers on the aircraft include Governor Sam Brownback who tops the list with more than 17,348 miles during the 15-month period examined by the AP. His trips are mostly ceremonial: groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting events, community meetings, business announcements and tours as well as visits to government agencies. But his schedule also shows he often meets with pastor groups across the state while traveling on government business.
Outgoing Transportation Secretary Mike King racked up 6,247 miles, which his office says was used to travel to speaking events, groundbreaking ceremonies for highway projects and staff meetings across the state.
Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey has flown 5,460 miles, much of it was for travel with various staff members to western Kansas to attend water meetings and other agriculture-related events. Flying saved time and prevented overnight stays, her office noted.
Kansas has no written guidelines for state agencies traveling on the state plane. The flights are not an illegal action on the part of Mr. Kobach. However, it is being perceived by many as an unnecessary use of state funds in a time of financial hardship for the state.