White House responds to bipartisan criticism of voter fraud commission by attacking the press

Kris Kobach calls CNN’s report “fake news.”

Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J., to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J., to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

CNN is reporting that 44 states are refusing to turn over at least some personal voter information requested by Election Integrity Commission vice chair Kris Kobach last week. Both Democrats and Republicans claim his request is, at best, an overreach and at worst, a plan to lay the groundwork for voter suppression.

Kobach responded to the criticism Wednesday by attacking CNN.

“While there are news reports that 44 states have ‘refused’ to provide voter information to the Commission, these reporters are patently false, more ‘fake news,’” he said in the statement. “At present, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the Commission’s request for publicly available voter information.”

After reaching out to each state’s elections officials, CNN reported Tuesday afternoon on how each state has responded to Kobach’s request. The network found that 44 states have refused, at least in part, while two are still reviewing the commission’s request and two did not respond to requests for comment.

The Nation reported similar numbers on Wednesday, finding that 20 states have refused to comply entirely with Kobach’s demands and 25 states have refused to provide at least some of the requested information that’s not publicly available, like social security numbers. The other five states have not responded or have not yet received Kobach’s request, The Nation reported.

It’s unclear where Kobach got his count of 14. The commission vice chair does not site his source or list the 14 states he’s referring to.

The Vice President also tweeted out Kobach’s statement, adding his own analysis.

“Real news” -> 36 states have agreed or are considering providing publicly available voter data to @POTUS Election Integrity Commission,” Mike Pence wrote.

CNN has been a frequent target of the White House in recent weeks after the network was forced to retract a false story and after three journalists who worked on the report resigned.

In a letter last Thursday, Kobach, a notorious voter suppression architect, demanded that all 50 states send him the names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, voting history, and other personal information for all registered voters.

Secretaries of state and elections chiefs quickly responded with public statements condemning the commission and its goals. Democrats were the first to speak out, but a number of Republicans also joined in objecting.

“You’re not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office,” Tom Schedler, Lousiana’s Republican Secretary of State, said Monday.

Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, was even more harsh.

“My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Hosemann said. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

Kobach and other White House officials have attempted to defend the commission. Kobach called states’ refusal to turn over personal voter information “idiotic,” and Fox News reported that White House officials think states are afraid the data will show that President Trump won the popular vote.