Trump Disbands Voter Fraud Commission to Avoid 'Endless Legal Battles'
WASHINGTON -- President Trump on Wednesday dissolved the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity that he formed after claiming there were some three million non-citizens voting in the 2016 election.
Trump announced the commission in May, led by Vice President Mike Pence and vice-chairman Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The goal was to produce a report next year.
Other commission members included Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and Election Assistance Commission member Christy McCormick.
States, however, bristled at the commission's request for information on their voters as part of the voter fraud probe, with Mississippi's GOP secretary of state Delbert Hosemann saying "they can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from."
Michael Haas, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said some of the requested information is publicly available and "commonly purchased by political parties, candidates, researchers and other organizations." But Wisconsin would not, by law, release birthdates or Social Security numbers.
Furthermore, Haas determined in June that the presidential commission didn't qualify to see confidential information because they're not a law enforcement agency. If Pence and Kobach's team wanted to buy the publicly available voter file, he said the price tag was $12,500 -- no fee waiver available.
Ohio's GOP secretary of state, Jon Husted, was also among nearly half the states showing resistance, stressing that confidential information about voters "will not be provided to the commission."
“In responding to the commission, we will have ideas on how the federal government can better support states in running elections," Husted said in June. "However, we will make it clear that we do not want any federal intervention in our state's right and responsibility to conduct elections."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Wednesday evening that "despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry."
"Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action," Sanders said.
Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor this year, called it "a tactical shift by the president who remains very committed to finding the scope of voter fraud."
“In a perfect world, the commission would’ve moved swiftly and there wouldn’t be any lawsuits," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared that the commission "never had anything to do with election integrity."
"It was instead a front to suppress the vote, perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims, and was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other," Schumer said. "This shows that ill-founded proposals that just appeal to a narrow group of people won’t work, and we hope they’ll learn this lesson elsewhere.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the commission "found no fraud because there had been no fraud, and it should not be revived by the Department of Homeland Security."
"It was a waste of taxpayer resources and had no other purpose than to make it harder for millions of eligible voters to cast ballots in our elections," he said. "It represented a culmination of years of Republican efforts to roll back basic voting rights."