A federal judge has ordered President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission to hand over internal documents to one of its Democratic commissioners after he filed a lawsuit against the panel for keeping him in the dark about crucial information.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap had been feeling left out of the Trump administration’s voter fraud commission. In November, he complained that he had received no information about the commission’s activities since its last public meeting on Sept. 12 and further stated that he had been excluded from communications in which the commission’s work was discussed, including the planning for that September meeting, according to a report in The Huffington Post on Saturday.
There are currently 11 members on the commission: seven are Republicans, and the remaining four are Democrats. Dunlap and fellow Democrat Alan King have openly expressed their frustration over a lack of information on what the panel is working on.
Republicans have denied those claims.
Justice Department lawyers argued that Dunlap wasn’t entitled to all commission documents; only those that were prepared for the entire panel. But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia disagreed.
According to her 24-page opinion issued on Friday, it’s Dunlap’s right, as a commissioner, to “fully participate” in the proceedings of the Commission. “In the Court’s view, his assertion that he will be unable to fully participate without the information contained in relevant documents that the Commission has not shared with the public has merit,” she wrote. “He has a right to access documents that the Commission is considering relying on in the course of developing its final recommendations.”
Kollar-Kotelly gave examples of information he should have received, including a draft of a controversial letter sent to all 50 states requesting that election officials hand over voter information. She also said that he should should have had more input in the planning for the Sept. 12 meeting and should have more of an opportunity to plan future meetings.
“This ruling is a clear vindication of what I have fought for from the start: the right to participate in the important work of this commission and hopefully achieve an outcome that benefits the American people,” Dunlap said in a statement released through American Oversight, the group representing him in the litigation.
Calling his lawsuit “baseless and paranoid,” some Republican members of the commission are saying that Dunlap should resign.
The commission has met only twice publicly so far, and little has been disclosed to the public.
Dunlap also asked Kollar-Kotelly to block the commission from issuing a final report unless he was fully included in the process of writing it, but the judge declined that request, saying it would be premature.
The commission had offered to let Dunlap inspect the documents he was entitled to but not take notes or make copies. The judge ruled that this was “not a reasonable offer”.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) December 23, 2017
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