FOIA Response Reveals True Partisan Intent of Pence-Kobach Commission


WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) learned through a response to a FOIA Request from Feb. 15, 2017 that an employee with the Heritage Foundation pushed back on naming a single Democrat to the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.

The employee wrote personally to Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushing back on even a single Democrat being named to the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity and discouraging the White House from naming mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to the commission.

The Heritage Foundation employee, whose name has been redacted by the Department of Justice, complained that the White House did not consult with their "experts" who "have written more on the voter fraud issue than anyone in the country on our side of the political aisle." A few months later, President Donald Trump appointed Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation to the Pence-Kobach Commission. Mr. von Spakovsky is widely considered the architect of the voter fraud myth. These emails add to the mounting evidence that the commission has no interest in true bipartisanship or an open discussion of how to solve the real problems in our elections. 

“Any commission tasked with looking at the integrity of our elections should be bipartisan and should not be trying to make voting harder,” said Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a former Republican Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). “Yet Secretary Kris Kobach, the vice-chair of the commission, continues to use his position to further his quest to undermine citizens’ right to vote. His demonstrably false claims about election results in New Hampshire leading up today’s meeting impugned the dignity of that state and were clearly intended to undermine our democracy rather than strengthen it.”

“Instead of addressing the numerous serious issues facing our democracy, the commission met today for a second time to discuss the same tired anecdotes and debunked methodology that it has already decided to use to justify new restrictive voting laws. These farcical meetings continue to validate the worst suspicions about the commission: that it is designed to shrink the electorate for partisan advantage.”

“One of the stated goals of this meeting was to discuss the effect of election integrity issues on voter confidence. If the commissioners were really interested in pursuing this, they might look at a genuine, demonstrated threat to American election integrity, such as foreign interference. For example, the recent revelations about Russian nationals illegally buying political ads on Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign raise a serious issue that could legitimately undermine public confidence. This is a true issue of election integrity.”

This commission has no meaningful bipartisan credentials and its purpose is based on false charges of voter fraud that have already been repeatedly disproven.

A five-year long search during the George W. Bush administration turned up ‘virtually no evidence of voter fraud,’ according to the New York Times.