Maine secretary of state to fight for voting panel documents
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s top election official vowed Monday to continue his legal fight for records from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on which he served.
A judge previously ruled that Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, was entitled to the documents, but the commission rejected his request after President Donald Trump disbanded the panel last week.
Dunlap, who accused the panel of operating under a cloak of secrecy, said he was especially concerned by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comment that the commission’s preliminary findings were being forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security, which will take over the work.
He said he was unaware of any “preliminary findings.”
“Somebody’s been working on something, but we don’t know what it is,” Dunlap told The Associated Press. “If there’s something going on, it’s definitely going on behind the scenes, and out of view of the commissioners.”
The commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
Trump convened the commission in May 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. Trump won the Electoral College to assume the presidency.
Critics including Dunlap disagree with Trump’s contention of widespread voter fraud. More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia denied the panel’s request for detailed voter data. They voiced concerns about states’ rights, voter privacy and voter suppression.
Dunlap believes his legal action may have contributed to the demise of the commission, but that didn’t ease his anger over the commission’s refusal to provide the records that he sought. His attorneys are preparing to return to court continue to pursue the documents, he said.
He blasted the Justice Department after it alerted his attorneys that the commission wouldn’t be providing records, calling it a “rich blend of arrogance and contempt for the rule of law.”
Dunlap continued his attack in a Washington Post Op-Ed, saying “voter-fraud vampire hunters” prioritized the outcome over any sense of process. “In the American system of self-governance, the people have a right to know what their government is working on.”
“The president’s action shows that he never took the process seriously, and when it wasn’t going his way, he pulled the plug,” Dunlap wrote.