Dunlap v. PACEI: Investigating the Voter Fraud Commission

American Oversight is representing Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap in his lawsuit against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI), on which he served as a member, as he seeks to gain access to the records of the commission's work. President Trump dissolved the "voter fraud" commission in January 2018 after a federal court ruled that the commission could no longer exclude Dunlap from participating in its deliberations.

Background:

In May 2017, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap was appointed to serve on a new commission created by President Trump to investigate allegations of voter fraud. Despite joining the commission in good faith, Dunlap was systematically excluded from participating in the group’s work and was denied access to basic information about meeting agendas, letters sent by the commission, and potential witnesses who would testify to the commission.

On November 9, 2017 Dunlap filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia – represented by American Oversight and the law firm of Patterson Belknap – to enforce his rights as a member of the PACEI. The lawsuit alleged that the commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, had violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by denying Dunlap and other commissioners access to key documents and excluding them from much of the commission’s work.

On December 22, 2017 a federal judge largely agreed, ordering the commission to turn over documents and allow Dunlap to participate in commission activities.

Faced with the order, the commission ran an “option play” to avoid its consequences. Just weeks later, on January 3, 2018, President Trump dissolved the PACEI, and government lawyers have argued that the termination of the commission means that Dunlap no longer has a right to access the commission’s documents. In response, Dunlap filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the commission from destroying any records.

In the weeks after the commission was dissolved, Kobach, President Trump, and other administration officials have made claims about the nature of the commission’s “findings” and have claimed that the commission found evidence of numerous instances of voter fraud. Due to their ongoing efforts to block and exclude him, Dunlap has been unable to confirm or dispute these claims. But under the law, Dunlap has a right to review the materials used by the commission in reaching those conclusions, and he is continuing his fight to gain access to the commission’s records.

Updates

Voter Fraud Commission Asked Texas to Highlight Hispanic Surnames in Voter Data

February 6, 2018
Documents uncovered by American Oversight confirm that President Trump's voter fraud commission submitted an order to the Texas Secretary of State requesting a list of all registered voters in the state – and asking for Hispanic surnames to be identified.

American Oversight Calls on National Archives to Recover Voter Fraud Commission Documents from Kobach, Other Former Commissioners

January 18, 2018
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.

Dunlap Files for Temporary Restraining Order to Stop Election Commission From Hiding Records

January 9, 2018
In the wake of a significant legal victory for Secretary Dunlap, on January 3, President Trump abruptly dissolved the PACEI, citing ongoing litigation and resistance from state election officials as reasons for doing so. The White House announced a plan to transfer the commission’s “initial findings” to DHS so the agency can continue the commission’s work.
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