Last year, the University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor helped Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, craft a first-of-its kind immigration ordinance that penalized local businesses and landlords for employing or renting to illegal immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city, alleging that the measure was discriminatory and flew in the face of federal law. Kobach stepped in as the lead attorney to defend Hazleton.
Last week, a federal judge ruled in the ACLU’s favor, permanently barring the city from enforcing the ordinance. In a rash of TV appearances — including a press conference on the steps of Hazleton City Hall — Kobach lashed out at the judge for an “activist” decision that would surely be overturned by a federal appeals court in Philadelphia. If that fails, Kobach has said he’ll battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s hard to blame him. Thus far, his losing effort has been pretty lucrative. Last summer, Hazleton supporters created the “Small Town Defenders” fund, an online effort to raise money from citizens around the country to pay for the city’s defense. Since then, the fund has garnered plenty of media attention (Kobach has even promoted the effort on his Sunday-evening talk show on KMBZ 980) and raised approximately $300,000.
According to a story published today by the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader newspaper, Kobach has received a big chunk of the legal-fund cash. The Times-Leader reports that the Kansas lawyer has been paid $115,210 for his services.
Kobach did not immediately return the Pitch’s call for comment. But, for that kind of money, we’d wager he’s working on the Hazleton appeal. – Carolyn Szczepanski