The White House says it never did anything with all the state voter roll data it demanded last year as part of President Trump’s voter fraud commission and told a federal court Tuesday it plans to destroy the data now that the panel has been disbanded.
The revelations came as one of the panel members, a Democrat, has demanded a judge get involved in overseeing the end of the commission, which Mr. Trump nixed in an executive order last week, saying the legal challenges had gotten out of hand.
At the time, Mr. Trump said the Homeland Security Department could take over the mission of studying voter fraud — something opponents want to make sure doesn’t happen.
“Pending resolution of outstanding litigation involving the commission, and pending consultation with the [National Archives], the White House intends to destroy all state voter data,” Charles C. Herndon, the White House’s chief technology official, said in a sworn declaration to the court.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity set off a national firestorm last summer when the panel’s leaders asked states to turn over publicly available information from their voter files.
While many states sell or give away the information to campaigns, companies and other interested parties, some of them balked at giving the same data to the president’s commission, arguing they feared what Mr. Trump might do with it.
Court challenges to try to stop collection of the data failed, but the legal battles took their toll. After one Democratic commissioner, Matthew Dunlap, won a ruling last month that the commission was trying to shut him out of business, Mr. Trump last week said the whole thing had gotten out of hand, and he ordered the commission be shuttered.
Mr. Dunlap, though, said he still wants to see what information the panel compiled and hid from him and wanted to make sure none of the commission’s data is shared with Homeland Security to further that department’s efforts.
GOP commission members say Mr. Dunlap wasn’t shut out of business. Instead, they say the death of one commissioner and the arrest of a staffer on charges of child pornography hindered the panel’s business, and there was nothing going on to share with Mr. Dunlap.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled in favor of Mr. Dunlap, saying she thought he had been denied information, and ordered the panel to turn over documents.
Mr. Trump’s decision to shut down the panel doesn’t change that ruling, Mr. Dunlap says. In court papers Tuesday he said he still expects to get all the commission’s documents, and said he should be part of the shuttering of the commission to make sure it didn’t try to pull a fast one as it’s closing down.
Mr. Dunlap said he’s particularly worried about the commission’s vice chairman, Kris Kobach, who in some interviews after the panel’s disbanding suggested he would be advising Homeland Security as it takes over studying the issue.
The Homeland Security Department said in a statement last week that Mr. Kobach wasn’t advising the department on the issue in any capacity.
The commission’s lawyers, meanwhile, said that since the panel no longer exists, and will never produce a final work product, Mr. Dunlap is no longer a commissioner and has no right to demand information.
“With the dissolution of the commission without issuing any recommendations, Mr. Dunlap’s rights are coextensive with that of the public,” the Justice Department told Mr. Dunlap.