- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to turn over documents from the disbanded voting integrity commission to Democratic Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, rejecting the argument that he’s no longer entitled to them now that the commission is dissolved.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C., previously sided with Dunlap, saying he should have access to the documents, before the panel was disbanded in January.

On Wednesday, the judge reiterated that Dunlap is still entitled to the documents. She set a July 18 deadline for the documents to be produced.

Dunlap praised the decision, saying the people have a right to know about the panel’s work.

“In this decision, the judge locks the back windows and side doors, turns on the lights, and demands that this work happen not in the shadows, but in the open,” he said in a statement.

A message left with the commission’s vice chairman, Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was not immediately returned.

Trump, a Republican, convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million illegally cast ballots had cost him the popular vote, which Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

Critics disagree with Trump’s contention of widespread voter fraud.

Dunlap contends the Federal Advisory Committee Act requires the voter commission to provide all members with equal information as the panel goes about its activities.

He said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence.

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly found that the defendants didn’t meet the threshold for reconsidering her earlier decision, even with Trump’s dissolution of the panel on Jan. 3.

“Plaintiff ultimately should receive relevant documents that any of the former commissioners generated or received. This includes material that commissioners solicited and subsequently received from third parties,” the judge wrote.

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