Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on Friday accused the White House and leaders of a presidential commission of making false statements about potential voter fraud and of “troubling bias” as they led the now-disbanded election commission.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said, “That the commission predicted it would find widespread evidence of fraud actually reveals a troubling bias.”

In a scathing letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Dunlap said he found no evidence of voter fraud in the thousands of pages of records that a court ordered released to him as a member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Instead, Dunlap asserts that White House claims of “substantial evidence of voter fraud” were aimed at bolstering a “pre-ordained objective: ratifying the President’s statements that millions of illegal votes were cast during the 2016 elections.”

“Now, however, after months of litigation that should not have been necessary, I can report that the statements of Vice Chair Kobach and the White House were, in fact, false,” Dunlap, a Democrat who was a vocal critic of the commission, wrote in his letter. “I have reviewed the Commission documents made available to me and they do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud. Indeed, while staff prepared drafts of a report to be issued to the commission, the sections on evidence of voter fraud are glaringly empty. That the commission predicted it would find widespread evidence of fraud actually reveals a troubling bias.”

PANEL CREATED BY TRUMP LAST YEAR

Neither Pence’s office nor Kobach immediately responded to requests for comment on Dunlap’s letter late Friday afternoon.

President Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in early 2017 after making unsubstantiated claims that he only lost the popular vote because millions of illegal ballots were cast for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. The White House has never produced any evidence to support those claims, and Trump’s election integrity commission met just twice before being disbanded amid growing controversy over its purpose, membership and agenda.

As one of the commission’s 11 members, Dunlap participated in the two meetings but complained that he and others were being kept in the dark about the future calendar, agendas and speakers. He sued the commission for access to documents last year. And while the U.S. Department of Justice fought handing over the documents of a now-dissolved commission, a federal judge ordered the papers released to Dunlap last month.

In a further swipe at the commission, Dunlap also released all of the documents to the public for the first time and urged Pence to ensure his letter is published in the Federal Register. Dunlap said his legal team vetted the documents before publishing them to remove personal information, such as addresses and cellphone numbers, of private citizens as well as commission members.

‘THE LACK OF ANY EVIDENCE’

“There is no single document that reveals there is no widespread voter fraud,” Dunlap wrote to Pence and Kobach. “Instead, I rely on the lack of any evidence in the totality of what I have reviewed. Accordingly, after reviewing the material, I have concluded that my only recourse is to publish all of the documents made available to me, so Americans can conclude for themselves that evidence to support the statements of Vice Chair Kobach and the White House regarding the purported preliminary findings of the commission does not exist.”

The presidential commission was mired in controversy from the start.

Critics were skeptical that the commission would conduct its work objectively given the president’s unsubstantiated claims about millions of illegal ballots in 2016. States, including Maine, also immediately pushed back against a request from the commission to turn over personal voter registration data, including names, addresses, party affiliations and voting histories.

Dunlap strongly criticized Kobach for suggesting that incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s re-election “was stolen through voter fraud” because New Hampshire allows “domiciled” college students to vote even if they have a driver’s license in another state. He also called for another commission member to resign after it was revealed that he had previously expressed opposition to allowing any Democrats or “mainstream Republicans” to serve on the panel.

In an interview Friday, Dunlap said Pence had assured commission members and the public during the first meeting that the group began its work with “no preconceived notions or preordained results.”

“What these documents tell us is the exact opposite,” Dunlap said. He said the makeup of the commission was not balanced, speakers were selected by leaders pursuing an agenda and the entire proceedings were not transparent.

“I was on the commission and I couldn’t even get a calendar of the events,” Dunlap said. “The documents reveal that and they also reveal nothing in terms of voter misconduct.”

‘DEEPLY TROUBLED’

Dunlap wrote in his letter to Pence and Kobach that he was “deeply troubled” by his experience on the commission and by statements after the group’s dissolution suggesting voter fraud. In particular, Dunlap pointed to a White House statement suggesting that states refused to share basic information “despite substantial evidence of voter fraud.”

He also suggested that, unbeknownst to him at the time, commission leaders were considering asking federal court clerks to turn over “lists of individuals deemed ineligible or excused from federal jury service due to death, relocation, convictions or lack of citizenship.”

 

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