American Oversight on Tuesday sued the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) — the independent federal agency charged with providing guidance and information to election officials — for the release of communications between select commissioners and known election conspiracy theorists and voting-restriction advocates, including EAC advisory board member Cleta Mitchell.
“Cleta Mitchell was an active participant in Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, and her appointment to advise the EAC was a red flag for potential interference in future elections,” said Heather Sawyer, Executive Director of American Oversight. “We’ve already uncovered troubling evidence that the EAC was in contact with people and groups working to restrict voting rights and push false claims of fraud. The public needs to know whether Mitchell and her allies have sought to undermine the critical work of the EAC at a time when local election officials are facing increasing harassment and threats of violence, even as they prepare for upcoming elections.”
Since June 2021, American Oversight has filed four Freedom of Information Act requests to the Election Assistance Commission. The records sought by American Oversight include:
In July 2021, emails obtained by American Oversight from the EAC revealed that in the months before and after the election, officials at the EAC communicated with groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, as well as various legal groups associated with false claims of widespread voter fraud.
Commissioner McCormick had previously been appointed to former President Trump’s short-lived 2017 “voter-fraud” commission. At that time, American Oversight represented another member of that group, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, in a lawsuit that ultimately forced the release of records revealing that the body did little work and found no evidence of widespread fraud.
In November 2021, Votebeat reported that Mitchell had been appointed to the EAC’s advisory board by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Mitchell was nominated by USCCR commissioner and prominent voter fraud activist J. Christian Adams. Mitchell is well known for her participation in the January 2021 phone call during which former President Trump urged Georgia election officials to “find” more votes for him. She also helped fundraise for the now-disgraced “audit” of the 2020 election results in Arizona’s Maricopa County.
Tuesday’s lawsuit is part of American Oversight’s investigation into threats to voting rights across the country. From the partisan reviews of the 2020 election in Arizona and Wisconsin, to Kentucky’s “ballot integrity task force,” American Oversight is using public records to expose efforts to undermine public faith in the integrity of our elections. Learn more about American Oversight’s investigations here.