December 18, 2017
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Dunlap sues Trump voter fraud panel for access to blocked messages

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff
Updated:
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking information about a federal election commission on which he serves.

Dunlap, a Democrat, claims the commission, led by Republican Vice President Mike Pence, violated federal law when it excluded him from access to some of the commission’s work correspondences.

Dunlap said he hasn’t heard anything from the commission since Sept. 12, other than acknowledgement of his request for information. His lawsuit argues that he and other commissioners have been barred from participating meaningfully in the commission’s work.

He said in an interview that he hopes the lawsuit “jars some stuff loose and we start acting like a commission.”

“I don’t think I’ve asked extraordinary questions. I’m not asking for the nuclear codes,” Dunlap said. “I’m asking how we’re developing our agendas, what our plan is and what our schedule is.”

Dunlap has not been a compliant member of the commission, which was created after President Donald Trump’s campaign claims of widespread voting fraud, since he was named to it in May, when he told the Bangor Daily News “if the commission finds what I suspect they’re going to find, I suspect it will go away with a whimper.”

To date, Trump and the commission have not presented any credible evidence of voter fraud.

In July, Dunlap refused to turn over Maine election data the commission had sought because parts of it were confidential by law. In September, Dunlap publicly criticized the commission’s co-chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, as “reckless” during a commission meeting after Kobach claimed there was proof of voter fraud in New Hampshire.

Dunlap’s suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In it, Dunlap argues the commission is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act by excluding members from its work.

Dunlap is represented in the case by a progressive watchdog group called American Oversight and the New York law firm Patterson Belknap. He said no taxpayer money will be used for the lawsuit and that his request for outside counsel is pending approval by Attorney General Janet Mills.

BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.

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