One of the Democrats on the president’s Commission on Election Integrity is suing the group and Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach is vice chair of the controversial panel, created by President Trump to study election issues.
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he hasn’t been receiving information about what the group’s doing.
“Secretary Dunlap has been, and continues to be, blocked from receiving commission documents necessary to carry out his responsibilities,” the lawsuit says.
Dunlap says the group isn’t really bipartisan and there’s been a lack of transparency. The lawsuit says President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Kobach have attempted to create a “veneer of legitimacy” by making the panel bipartisan.
“But by obstructing certain commissioners’ access to information and failing to allow substantive participation of commissioners, the commission and its staff have compromised the legitimacy of any findings,” the suit argues.
Kobach calls the lawsuit “baseless and paranoid.” In a statement provided to KPR by Kobach's office, he said outside issues have stalled the commission’s work.
“He assumes that correspondence regarding commission business was occurring, but not being shared with him. Dunlap's assumption is incorrect,” Kobach said. “I did not receive any such correspondence either.”
Those events include the death of a member of the group, lawsuits targeting the panel and the arrest of a staff member on charges unrelated to the group’s work.
“It is not at all surprising that commission staff were very busy during this period,” Kobach said. “Ironically, Dunlap's lawsuit is only going to increase the workload faced by commission staff and Department of Justice attorneys."
President Trump has made an unsubstantiated claim that there were millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election. Kobach has supported Trump’s argument while others have criticized it. Trump created the commission to study election integrity, including factors that could undermine confidence in elections or allow improper registrations.
Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @KPRKoranda.
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