Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has filed a lawsuit against the Republican-led presidential voter fraud commission, claiming that he and other members of the panel are being shut out of the process. Dunlap, who is a Democrat, says GOP leaders on the commission are excluding him from discussions aimed at shaping the group’s agenda.
Dunlap says he has heard nothing about the activities of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for nearly two months. After his repeated attempts to contact the commission’s leadership, Dunlap says he decided to file a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Dunlap says the Republican-led freeze-out is a clear violation of federal transparency laws.
“I guess the real question for me is: Why I didn’t do it sooner,” he says.
Dunlap’s lawsuit is just the latest to target the commission, which made headlines when its vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requested that election officials in all 50 states submit sensitive personal voter information, including partial Social Security numbers. Civil rights groups have cried foul over the Kobach’s demands.
Ezra Rosenberg, a spokesman for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, says his organization sued the commission in July alleging violations of federal transparency laws.
“We’re asking the court to order the disclosure of the documents that the public has a right to see,” he says. “And right now we have a motion that we filed asking the court to compel the commission to comply with its past orders and to give us more information as to the nature of these documents, because on this index that we’ve got, they lump together all of the documents into certain categories and we want a document-by-document description.”
To date, the commission has been sued eight times while it has only convened twice. Dunlap says he asked commission leaders why some materials that were clearly being shared among some members were being withheld from others. He says he also asked when the next meeting would be.
“I did get a response about 10 days later saying, ‘We’ve gotten your letter we’re under a lot of litigation, we have to review this with counsel to see if we’re following the law,’” he says. “I’m not asking for the nuclear codes — I’m asking to find out when we’re meeting again.”
Calls to Kobach’s office were not returned, and he told the Associated Press that Dunlap’s lawsuit was “baseless and paranoid.” In a prepared statement, Andrew Kossack, executive director of the commission, said Dunlap’s lawsuit “has no merit and we look forward to refuting it in court.”