President Donald Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has come under heavy fire since its broad request for voter data on every registered voter in the US. The main target: Commission Vice Chair Kris Kobach.
Here is a quick summary of what has happened in the last couple of weeks:
- A growing list of Democrats are demanding Kobach's resignation. Meanwhile, he is under an investigation probe by the Kansas Supreme Court;
- Three New Mexico lawmakers introduced a bill this week to repeal the election commission;
- Thousands of voters have withdrawn their voter registration in response; and
- Seven separate lawsuits have been filed against the commission, including the ACLU, which charges that the election commission is violating public accountability laws.
RELATED ARTICLE: CO Officials: We’ve Never Seen Such a Sudden Exodus of Voters
US Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, John Conyers, Jr., Bennie G. Thompson, and Robert A. Brady sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking for the resignation of Kobach from the election commission, and that he rescind Mr. Kobach’s unprecedented request for sensitive voter information.
All 4 Democrats are ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Homeland Security, and House Administration
The letter reads:
“Mr. Kobach has repeatedly claimed, falsely, that widespread voter fraud exists and advertises his work on the Commission to promote his own campaign for governor of Kansas. These actions undermine the integrity of the Commission and raise significant concerns that the Commission will be used as a tool for voter suppression.”
A group of delegates from New Mexico have added another layer to the fight against the commission.
US Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced a bill last Friday to repeal President Trump’s election commission order that they say intimidates voters, especially “people of color.”
"The right to vote is one of the most sacred and fundamental rights in our democracy. President Trump’s voter suppression commission is nothing more than a cynical and shameful attempt to intimidate voters – particularly people of color – delegitimize our electoral process, and discourage participation in government."
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has refused to comply with the Presidential Advisory Commission’s request to share sensitive voter roll data.
Every year the Kansas Supreme Court’s disciplinary arm receives about 800 complaints, but only opens investigations in about a third of them.
One of those investigations will be looking into Kris Kobach, who currently serves as Kansas' secretary of state.
The complaint against Kobach was filed by Keri Strahler, a Democratic committee member in Kansas.
She charges that there are “ethical questions surrounding Kobach’s behavior as an attorney,” exemplified by a $1,000 fine Kobach was given by U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara for misleading the court regarding voting-policy documents he had in a meeting with President Trump.
Responding to Strahler's request, the Kansas Supreme Court's disciplinary arm has launched a probe on the misconduct claims. The agency’s panel of three lawyers will investigate. Kobach could face possible censure or disbarment if the probe validates Strahler’s complaint.
With all the issues swirling around the commission, it has announced plans to dramatically alter how it plans to collect state voter information.
The goal: Avoid a potential legal ruling that could require it to conduct a privacy assessment before collecting the data.
The plan is to have a few people on the White House staff conduct all of the work of the commission in order to help maintain a legal argument that the "sole function" of the commission is to advise the president.
In a district court filing on Monday, Charles Christopher Herndon, the director of White House Information Technology, laid out the scope of the new plan.
Herndon wrote, "The Executive Committee for Information Technology will have no role in this data collection process. The only people who will assist are a limited number of my technical staff from the White House Office of Administration."