President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he’s dissolving a special commission on voter fraud.
His decision follows a recent ruling by a federal judge in favor of Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who sued the commission and asserted it wasn’t providing him documents about its work.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Dunlap said the president’s decision to disband the commission came without warning, but “wasn’t entirely a surprise.”
He said the commission has not provided him any documents since the federal judge ruled in his favor.
“We have heard nothing since the court ruled they have to follow the law regarding the Federal Advisory Committee Act. But the court order still stands, and it’s incumbent upon them to follow the order and the law,” Dunlap said.
On Thursday, Dunlap said that Trump’s decision to dissolve the commission shows that the panel was designed to nationalize new restrictions on voter registration.
“It kind of tells me what their goals were all along, which was to get a national voter ID law and other restrictive voter laws and to do it under the auspices of either national rulemaking or an executive order,” he said.
In his statement, Trump references the lawsuits that have dogged the commission since its inception.
“Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action,” he said.
Dunlap was represented in the suit American Oversight along with the law firm Patterson Belknap.
“It’s no coincidence that the president dissolved the commission once it became clear it wouldn’t be permitted to operate in the shadows,” American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers said in a statement. “Secretary Dunlap deserves our gratitude for stepping into the breach to take on adversaries of democracy. We intend to continue to fight for his right to access to the commission’s secret communications. President Trump can dissolve the commission, but the law doesn’t allow him or the commission to slink away from view and avoid accountability.”
Trump created the commission after asserting without evidence that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in the last election.
Commission vice chairman Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach also asserted that there was evidence of fraud in New Hampshire — a claim sharply refuted by officials there and Dunlap, who called Kobach’s assertion reckless during a public meeting held in September.
Dunlap told Maine Public that it was after that meeting that conservatives on the panel began shutting him out of its business. Dunlap then sued the commission in November.