Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has again turned to the courts in his effort to obtain working documents of the federal voter fraud commission on which he served.

President Trump dissolved his voter fraud commission on Jan. 3, citing lawsuits against the body and states’ resistance to its requests for detailed voter registration data. The decision came in the aftermath of a court ruling directing the commission to share the documents with Dunlap, one of four Democrats serving on the 11-member body.

On Friday, however, the Trump administration informed Dunlap that it would not turn over the documents, under the rationale that, because the commission no longer exists, he is no longer a commissioner and thus no longer entitled to see them.

In response, Dunlap has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to intervene to secure access to the documents immediately and to allow him to participate in the commission’s winding down. The request, filed Tuesday, also asks the court to temporarily block the commission from transferring any of the documents to the Department of Homeland Security while it considers its final decision.

“Mendacity and bad faith have characterized this commission from its inception,” said one of Dunlap’s lawyers, Austin Evers of the nonprofit government ethics group American Oversight, in a prepared statement. “Now that a court is forcing transparency on the commission the White House wants to take its ball and go home.”

In a written statement released Saturday, Dunlap held no punches, describing the government’s behavior as a “rich blend of arrogance and contempt for the rule of law.” He said it is “unthinkable, unconscionable and un-American that the administration would engage in actions that demonstrate such a flagrant disregard for a court ruling and the rule of law” and said he is “more committed than ever” to securing the documents.

Election integrity experts said last week that Dunlap’s lawsuit almost certainly played a part in the demise of the commission, which Trump created by executive order in February to substantiate his evidence-free assertion that he had lost the popular vote in 2016 only because millions of fraudulent ballots were cast for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Dunlap came under fire from fellow Democrats for agreeing to join the commission, which they felt was providing bipartisan window dressing for what amounted to a voter suppression effort. Dunlap defended his role over the spring and summer, saying he was participating with an open mind and would act as a whistleblower if it started to engage in partisan shenanigans. He became highly critical during and after its second and final meeting Sept. 12, saying many of his colleagues appeared to define “voter fraud” to include legitimate voting by people they don’t want to see cast ballots, such as college students.

Nationally, numerous voter fraud investigations have concluded that the problem is vanishingly small, with one study by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt finding just 31 credible allegations of identity fraud in all primary, general, special and municipal elections between 2000 and 2014, despite over a billion votes being cast. A 2011 voter fraud investigation in Maine by Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers found just one instance of fraud.

Colin Woodard can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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