Democrat on defunct voting commission says Kobach lied about why it dissolved

The commissioner who sued the group calls Kobach's claim "balderdash."

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center left, speaks at the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, DC on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center left, speaks at the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, DC on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D) had strong words for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Thursday after Kobach tried to lay blame for the failure of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission at the feet of Dunlap and three other Democratic commissioners.

“[It’s a] bunch of balderdash,” Dunlap told ThinkProgress in an interview.

Since Trump announced Wednesday that he was dissolving the commission he created to investigate his false claim that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016, he and his advisors have assigned blame to everyone other than themselves.

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On Twitter, Trump said Democratic elections officials who refused to provide the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with voter data led to its demise. A White House advisor said it was unable to operate transparently. And Kobach, the commission’s vice-chair, claimed that Democrats on the panel jeopardized their opportunity to be involved in setting federal voting policy.

“Anyone on the left needs to realize that by throwing the food in the air, they just lost a seat at the table,” Kobach told Politico, likely referring to over a dozen lawsuits against the group by Democrats and voting advocates, including one by a Democratic commissioner against his own commission.

Dunlap, the commissioner who sued the group in November, said Thursday that Kobach’s attempt to lay blame on him is nonsense.

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“He said we were stonewalling,” Dunlap said. “I was asking for very basic information. I wasn’t asking for all the inner workings of the commission. I wanted to know what our reference documents were, what are our communications like, who are we talking to, what are we saying to each other, what’s our schedule? And I couldn’t get that information at all, under any circumstances, and that’s why we pursued the lawsuit.”

On December 22, a federal judge ruled in Dunlap’s favor, ordering Kobach to give the Democrat more access to the panel’s records. Dunlap says he is still awaiting the documents.

“The Federal Advisory Committee Act is quite clear that this is supposed to be a transparent, open process that welcomes perspectives from across the political spectrum, and we weren’t doing any of that,” Dunlap said. “When I filed the suit, [Kobach] said the suit was baseless. Well, the federal judge disagreed.”

After the December order, Dunlap said he suspected that Kobach would choose to terminate the commission rather than involve the four Democrats.

Since disbanding the commission he created in May 2017 to substantiate his false claim that 3 to 5 million people illegally voted in November 2016, Trump has continued to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud. On Twitter, he wrote that only a voter ID law would protect American elections, when research shows that they actually suppress minority voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats.

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Dunlap said his comments underscore why the commission’s investigation was so important — to prove that a federal voter ID is unnecessary.