May 27, 2018
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Judge orders Trump’s voter fraud commission to give Dunlap documents

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

PORTLAND, Maine — President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud must provide Maine’s secretary of state access to an array of its records, a federal judge ordered Friday night.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that officials seemed to have denied Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap documents and information he would need to fully participate as a member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The decision comes as vindication for Dunlap, a Democrat, who claimed in a November lawsuit that the commission has been keeping its operations secret and had broken federal law by denying him and other members access to key documents and information.

Dunlap “has a right, as a commissioner, to ‘fully participate’ in the proceedings of the commission,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her decision, which Politico posted online. Without the requested documents his “right to fully participate in the commission would be irreparably harmed.”

The Maine secretary of state is one of four Democrats on the 11-member commission, which was formed in May to investigate Trump’s unsupported claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Dunlap said the Friday ruling is “a clear vindication of what I have fought for.”

The Maine official has said he was kept out of the loop on much of the committee’s work. Since its September meeting he and New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, also a Democrat, both said they have not had any substantive communication from the panel.

In her 24-page ruling, Kollar-Kotelly cited three instances in which Dunlap had been denied full access to information and materials he needed for commission work. The commission’s vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, previously called the suit “baseless and paranoid.”

Friday’s court order requires the commission to provide Dunlap with various working records and correspondence, including requests for voter data sent to states.

These requests prompted uproar over the summer and at least 30 states, including Maine, refused to honor them, saying that doing so would violate confidentiality rules or other legal strictures.

Dunlap was represented in the case by a progressive watchdog group called American Oversight and the New York law firm Patterson Belknap. He previously said that no taxpayer money would be used for the lawsuit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Jake Bleiberg at: @JZBleiberg.

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