Today, CJ Online presented a story some of us have known about for a while.
ecretary of State Kris Kobach authorized interior construction work on a building he owns in rural Douglas County that code enforcement officials determined was forbidden because of the lack of proper permits, officials said Tuesday.To read the CJ Online article, and Kobach's response, you'd be concerned that this is someone who simply didn't file the right permits. In fact, Kobach himself tells that story:
The wood-and-metal structure on 159 acres was erected after Kobach signed an affidavit in June 2013 declaring the building was designed for agriculture purposes, including storage of a tractor, implements, seed, fertilizer and tools. A portion of the building would serve as a farm office, which might include a restroom if water service was obtained.
The project attracted attention of county inspectors in April, when an electrical inspection revealed interior framing for bedrooms, kitchen facilities and a bathroom, as well as installation of an air conditioning unit.
"I proceeded on what Morton Buildings recommended," Kobach said. "I went with what Morton told me. Douglas County looked at it and said it looks more like a residence."A simple mistake. A fact that an Secretary of State was ignorant of the law, and as a result that is a valid defense.
The county affidavit signed by Kobach a year ago said in bold text the structure couldn't be a "place of human habitation."
If only that was the whole story.
The building in question is here:
A nice, large building that has been under construction for some time in a lot zoned agriculture. As you can see, outside you have full central heating & air units, and a nice BBQ grill.
The inside also opens itself up to show us what agriculture looks like.
Full outlet runs for a kitchen, utilities, rooms that were referred to by Westar Energy in their walk through as 'bedrooms'.
A failure to file the right permits is a simple error, and maybe Kobach was simply ignorant of the law (though last I checked that wasn't a defense anywhere). But this document tells us what really went on:
with no listed improvements and a low-value land listed as agriculture, Secretary of State Kobach took almost 3 years, since 8/26/2011 with an improperly filed piece of land, zoned for agriculture (which it was not) and paid significantly lower taxes due to agriculture tax collection rules.
The sad fact is, however, I have reason to believe that Kris Kobach isn't the only Kansas politician to bank on the idea that an errant listing of property to dodge taxes is the kind of thing you can get away with.
At question now is whether or not Kris Kobach took federal or state agricultural benefits on land that was clearly not entitled to them; and if ignorance is a defense against breaking the tax code.