At a hearing on the President’s voter fraud panel Wednesday, a federal judge called the commission’s failure to meet transparency requirements ahead of its meetings “incredible,” prompting the commission to apologize.
Last month, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against the panel for its failure to follow federal laws that require all documents and agendas surrounding a presidential advisory committee’s meetings to be made public ahead of time.
At Wednesday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found that the commission only released its agenda and proposed bylaws ahead of its meeting on July 19, but commissioners showed up to the meeting with binders full of reports from the Heritage Foundation that the public had not seen yet, The Washington Post reported.
A list of discussion topics circulated by the panel vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was also not publicly disclosed ahead of time, she said.
She called the panel’s defense that it didn’t know it had to post documents prepared by individual commissioners ahead of meetings “incredible.”
“You didn’t completely live up to the government’s representations,” Kollar-Kotelly reportedly told Justice Department lawyers at Wednesday’s hearing. “I want to know what things are not going to be covered” by the government’s pledges.
The panel’s attorney then apologized for what she called an error by staffers.
“It was truly an honest misunderstanding on the part of the commission with respect to its obligations to share information,” attorney Elizabeth Shapiro said. “It was not an attempt to hide anything. It fully intends to be as transparent as possible. . . . I wanted to convey our apologies and our sincere regret for that.”
The lawyers’ committee suit is one of seven pending lawsuits against President Donald Trump’s voter fraud panel, which has requested public voter data from all 50 states.
At least 30 states have said they would at least partially comply with the request. Many state leaders have objected to the committee’s request because they view it as an attempt to reveal personal voter information and suppress voting rights.
Trump created the commission after repeatedly claiming that millions voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election, causing then-opponent Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote. Commission leaders have consistently denied that Trump’s complaints are why the panel was created.