Court: Kobach Voter Fraud Panel Must Turn Over Records To Dem Commissioner

Newly-elected Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is stands after the results were announced Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012  during a joint convention to elect constitutional officers in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)
Newly-elected Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is stands after the results were announced Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 during a joint convention to elect constitutional officers in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)
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December 23, 2017 1:32 p.m.

A federal judge Friday sided with a Democrat on President Trump’s voter fraud commission in his request that the commission turn over documents it had been withholding from release.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary decision backing the Democrat, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap in his claim that he was entitled to view internal communications and other records that the commission has resisted releasing publicly.

The judge stop short of granting some of Dunlap’s other requests, including blocking the commission from releasing a final report if Dunlap was not treated as an equal participant, as she said such is a decision is “premature.”

Friday’s order was the result of a lawsuit brought by Dunlap last month, after previously complaining to the media and directly to the commission’s staff that he was being shut out of its inner workings.

The commission, named the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, was created by Trump in May, after he claimed repeatedly without evidence that millions voted illegally in 2016. It is chaired by Vice President Pence, and vice-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), who is known for pushing restrictive voting laws.

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Among the records Dunlap was seeking were internal communications between Kobach and two other Republican commissioners before they were officially named members. These and other records were referenced in a seperate lawsuit alleging that the commission was not being sufficiently transparent.

“The Court shall not monitor every document to be released to Plaintiff, but expects Defendants to comply with the guidance set forth in this decision,” Kollar-Kotelly said Friday. “The Commission has a clear duty to provide Plaintiff with these documents and any similar documents that exist now or in the future.”

Additionally, Kollar-Kotelly slapped down the idea floated by the commission to allow Dunlap view some of the documents in question, but not take notes or make copies of them.

This is not a reasonable offer. If Defendants have decided that Plaintiff should be permitted to review documents, then he should be permitted to take notes and to make copies if he thinks that doing so would be useful,” she said.

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