Non-partisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today called on the Archivist of the United States to take legal action to prevent the former vice chair of President Trump’s voter fraud commission and other former commissioners from concealing or destroying records relating to the work of the now-disbanded presidential panel.
American Oversight is representing Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap in his lawsuit against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on which he served as a member, seeking access to records of the commission’s work.
In a court filing in that lawsuit on Tuesday, the Justice Department argued that neither the government nor the court has the power to compel former commissioners, including vice chair Kris Kobach, to turn over commission documents – despite the fact that those documents are government records that must be preserved by law.
In the filing, the Justice Department notes that if the National Archives and Records Administration determines that records need to be recovered, they could bring legal action to force Kobach and other commissioners to return any documents in their possession.
American Oversight’s letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero highlights the importance of preserving the records of the president’s short-lived voter fraud commission and calls on him to “take all immediate steps necessary to ensure the preservation and return of these records as soon as possible, including by requesting that the Attorney General institute immediate legal action to require individual commissioners to return copies of any records in their possession relating to the work of the Commission.”
In late December, a federal court ruled that the voter fraud commission could not legally exclude Secretary Dunlap, a Democrat, from access to commission records necessary to participate fully in the group’s deliberations. Rather than turn over documents to Dunlap as required, President Trump dissolved the commission just weeks later. Justice Department has since argued that, because the commission no longer exists, Dunlap has no right to any of the documents that the panel created.
Secretary Dunlap is continuing his legal fight to gain access to the commission’s records.
American Oversight’s letter to Archivist Ferriero is below:
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