- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2017

One of the members of President Trump’s voter-integrity commission filed a lawsuit Thursday against the panel, arguing the leaders — including Vice President Mike Pence — are shutting him out of their work.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the Democratic members on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, said that the panel has gone silent since its last meeting nearly two months ago.

Mr. Dunlap said there’s been a “vacuum of information” from the commission, which is led by Mr. Pence and co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

“Clearly, there is information about this commission being created and discussed, but I have no access to that information and it has not been provided upon request,” the secretary said.

Mr. Pence’s office, which is providing staff for the commission, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Kobach, the vice chairman, said the lawsuit was “baseless and paranoid.”

He said in a statement to The Washington Times that there was no correspondence going on, and nothing was being kept from Mr. Dunlap.

“I did not receive any such correspondence either,” he said.

Mr. Kobach said commission business was stalled by legal battles, the death of a commissioner, and the arrest of a staff member.

“It is not at all surprising that Commission staff were very busy during this period. Ironically, Dunlap’s lawsuit is only going to increase the workload faced by Commission staff and Department of Justice Attorneys,” Mr. Kobach said.

The commission has been under fire from its creation, and Mr. Dunlap’s lawsuit is just the latest legal battle — though coming from one of its own members, the lawsuit is perhaps a deeper blow.

The panel was charged by Mr. Trump with investigating the prevalence of voter fraud, voting roll problems and barriers to voting. Opponents, including the top leadership of the Democratic Party, have said the panel’s goal is to try to kick valid voters off the rolls — something panel leaders vehemently deny.

Seven Republicans and four Democrats are on the panel.

The commission has held two public meetings, but Mr. Dunlap said he’s convinced there is behind-the-scenes work he’s not being told about.

“Certain commissioners continue to work, research, and communicate behind the scenes without involving Secretary Dunlap or sharing documents with Secretary Dunlap as required by law,” the secretary said in his court filing.

He also said he was stunned that he had to be told about the arrest of a staffer on the commission, on charges of possession of child pornography, by a reporter.

Mr. Dunlap said under federal law and court precedent, any member of a federal commission is entitled to see the work.

The Lawyers’ Commission for Civil Rights Under Law — one of the groups already battling the commission in court over transparency issues — said Mr. Dunlap’s lawsuit was “highly unusual and virtually unprecedented,” and points to how dysfunctional the voter panel has become.

“That its own members are in the dark about the way that the Commission operates and deliberates makes clear that this Commission is no more than a tool to advance this administration’s voter suppression agenda,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the lawyers’ committee.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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