Dunlap goes back to court to seek voting commission records

January 9, 2018

FILE - In this July 8, 2017 file photo, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap speaks during a voter registration meeting at the National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Indianapolis. On Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, Dunlap said he planned to continue his legal fight for documents from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on which he served. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Lawyers for Maine’s top election official on Tuesday sought to ensure his court-ordered access to records from President Donald Trump’s disbanded voter fraud commission, on which he served.

The legal action on behalf of Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap came after the documents were denied on the grounds the Republican president had dissolved the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

One of Dunlap’s lawyers, Austin Evers, accused the White House of trying to avoid public scrutiny.

“Now that a court is forcing transparency on the commission, the White House wants to take its ball and go home,” Evers said in a statement. “Luckily for the American people, the law doesn’t allow government officials to evade accountability so easily.”

A filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asks that Dunlap be given access to all documents related to the commission’s work and the decision to dissolve the panel.

“Dissolution of the commission does not change the law on the availability of a presidential commission’s records, either for a former member or for the public,” Dunlap said.

A judge previously sided with Dunlap, saying he should have access to the documents, before the panel was disbanded.

The commission’s vice chairman, Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, didn’t immediately return a message left at his office.

Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million illegally cast ballots had cost him the popular vote, which Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

Critics, including Dunlap, disagree with Trump’s contention of widespread voter fraud.

Dunlap said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence. He contends the Federal Advisory Committee Act requires the voter commission to provide all members with equal information as the panel goes about its activities.

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