Archive for Sunday, October 22, 2017

Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, right, introduces one of the speakers at a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 in Manchester, NH. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, left, also attend. Gardner opened the meeting by defending his participation and the panel's existence, saying it hasn't yet reached any conclusion. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, right, introduces one of the speakers at a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 in Manchester, NH. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, left, also attend. Gardner opened the meeting by defending his participation and the panel's existence, saying it hasn't yet reached any conclusion. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

October 22, 2017

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President Donald Trump's advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own — with some of its own members raising concerns about its openness.

This past week, two members fired off letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel's agenda and demanding answers about its activities. That comes as Democratic U.S. senators are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress.

The criticism from the commissioners was remarkable because it came from insiders — the very people who are supposed to be privy to its internal discussions and plans.

In a letter sent Oct. 17, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said it was clear he was not being made aware of information pertaining to the commission. He requested copies of all correspondence between commission members since Trump signed the executive order creating it in May.

"I am in a position where I feel compelled to inquire after the work of the commission upon which I am sworn to serve, and am yet completely uninformed as to its activities," Dunlap wrote in his letter to Andrew Kossack, the commission's executive director.

He said he had received no information about the commission's research or activities since its last meeting, on Sept. 12. He also said he continued to receive media inquiries about commission developments "that I as a commissioner am blind to."

A commissioner from Alabama, Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan L. King, said he sent a similar letter late last week. He said the only information he has received since the commission's meeting more than a month ago was an email informing him of the death of a fellow commissioner, former Arkansas state lawmaker David Dunn.

"Here I am on this high-level government committee, and I don't know when the next meetings are or how many meetings there will be," he said in a telephone interview. "I am in the dark on what will happen from this point on, to tell you the truth."

King and Dunlap are two of four Democrats on the 11-member commission.

Requests for comment sent to Kossack, the commission's executive director, and the commission's vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, were not returned.

J. Christian Adams, a commission member who was a Justice Department attorney under former President George W. Bush, said in an email that all commissioners were receiving the same information.

"Once upon a time election integrity was bipartisan," Adams said in the email. "Apparently not all agree. That's a shame."

The commission has stirred controversy from the moment it was established last spring. Critics say Trump is using it to find support for his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that cost him the popular vote during the 2016 election. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes nationwide than Trump.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., there is no evidence of it being a widespread problem, as Trump suggests.

Critics argue the commission is stacked with people who favor voting restrictions, rather than those who want to expand access, and that the commission has a predetermined agenda that will result in recommendations making it more difficult for people to register to vote, stay registered and cast ballots.

Its first significant action was to request a wide range of information about all registered voters in every state, including partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and voting history. The commission scaled back its response after stinging criticism. A tally by Associated Press reporters nationwide shows that 15 states denied the request, raising questions about how useful the information will be.

In August, the AP filed a records request with the commission under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The law specifies that agencies — including presidential commissions — have 20 business days to respond or 10 calendar days if the request was filed on an expedited basis, as the AP's was. To date, the AP has received no response from the commission despite multiple attempts to get one.

The commission's secrecy prompted a lawsuit by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which alleges the commission is violating federal open meetings and disclosure laws.

The group's executive director, Kristen Clarke, said she was hard-pressed to think of another commission that had acted in such secrecy.

"We have found that, in every respect, this commission has been carrying out its activities in an almost covert fashion," she said.

The lack of openness even applies to members of Congress.

Democratic senators have filed at least five separate requests for information with the commission since June, and a Sept. 12 follow-up letter noted that none of those had received a response.

"The Commission has not responded to a single letter from Senators with oversight jurisdiction over the Commission and continues to be rebuked for its questionable activities," said the letter by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Last week, a group of three Democratic senators wrote the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation into the commission because of its lack responsiveness and transparency. The letter signed by Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Klobuchar cited a lack of transparency on the commission and concern that its conclusions would diminish confidence in the democratic process.

"It is incredible that they are not responding to any of this stuff, and that's why it's appropriate for GAO to take a look," Bennet said in an interview.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This is any surprise that Kobach has his fingers in??

MerriAnnie Smith 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Any idea Trump has that is designed to take rights away from US citizens, imo, likely came straight from Putin.

That makes Kobach also a pawn in Putin's hands.

I used to think that kind of thing was so outlandish that I wouldn't have believed it before this last election.

Now, it's clear and Russia hardly even tries to deny it. It's obvious and has been proven to some degree already.

Russia declared war on this country but not in black and white announcements. They knew many people in our country are not smart enough to figure it out even if it hits them in the nose.

All Putin had to do was appeal to people like Kobach's racism, and of course they went straight for helping the Republicans do the things they've always wanted to do. Rip this country's heart out for the sake of the rich and powerful. Just like Putin runs Russia.

The shock is that we were so easy to roll over.

Michael Kort 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Trump could spare us all of the theater of the bizarre ( Kobach having previously calling the ACLU and The League Of Women Voters as being.....".COMMUNISTS ".... having been put on a voting commission by The Donald ! ) and just make that subordinate call to Putin and ask him how he would like Americans to hold elections that are rigged ? ? ?

Apparently, you only have to be a Republican, delusional, sociopathic, a public political liar and spend your time in Ks.office as too often as being ' out of State ', as a trump political establishment apprentice flunkie, to be the Kansas Secretary Of State !

I suppose that the next thing that you know Koback will be promoted to some bizarre economic tax cut " lie panel to save America " just like the tax cuts that saved us ( ? ) in Kansas ? ? ?

Richard Heckler 1 month, 2 weeks ago

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE NOT GOP?

Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

Like it or not we old school republicans need to stop voting the republican ticket because ultra conservatives took over our party through unethical methods. Big reckless spending and monster lies. Time for all of us to break ranks with the GOP.

Not voting is the same as voting for ALEC and a very radical right wing government.

BIG DOLLAR ALEC DARK MONEY TRAIL IS EVERYWHERE.

The ALEC War ON America:

--- War against Medical Insurance and Single Payer

--- War on public education and Higher Education

--- War against women

--- War on Voters Rights

--- War on strict gun regulations

--- War On National Monuments/Parks

--- War on the USA Postal Service

--- War On Environmental Cleanliness

--- War On Good Wages aka Right To Work Legislation

--- War On USA Jobs aka Free Trade Agreements and Leveraged Buyout Scams

--- War On Social Security Insurance

--- War On Medicaid

--- War On Medicare

--- War for Oil Control Worldwide

--- War on truth about global warming/climate change http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/03/30/174616/koch-denial-machine/

Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org

Corporate Welfare Profiteering http://www.rightwingwatch.org/report/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-in-state-legislatures/#Voter

Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

=== Pay close attention to this 24/7 organized activity: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/koch-brothers-candidate-training-recruiting-aegis-strategic

--- How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party https://samsmitharchives.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/6467/

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