CLC FOIA Reveals Redacted Names in Pence-Kobach Commission Email

Trump signs an executive order
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, displays his signed Executive Order for the Establishment of a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Thursday, May 11, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. [Public Domain]

After nearly two years of trying to hide the names of individuals involved in an inflammatory email to Attorney General Sessions regarding the Pence-Kobach Commission, the Department of Justice has relented and released the email without the redacted names. The newly released document reveals the involvement of Charles J. Cooper, J. Christian Adams, and John Fund in the Commission.

In August 2017, CLC received a series of documents in response to a FOIA request regarding the Pence-Kobach Commission, which was created as a partisan effort spearheaded by the White House to search for ways to validate President Trump's debunked claims about widespread voter fraud.

This response contained one particular email chain, which ended up in the private inbox of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which a Heritage Foundation employee asked that no Democrats, academics, or moderate Republicans to be appointed to the commission. This Heritage Foundation Employee was later revealed to be Hans von Spakovsky, one of the main architects of the voter fraud myth.

In the document, Spakovsky wrote that "there isn't a single Democratic official that will do anything other than obstruct any investigation of voter fraud" and they would instead "making claims that [the commission] is engaged in voter suppression." These unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud continue to permeate popular discourse and encourage efforts to suppress the right to vote.

The public has a right to know who is influencing the operation of a commission could that impact their right to vote, and the revelation of the participants in the email is a win for democracy. With this information, the American people can be better prepared to defend against voter suppression if they know its source. No agency should be able to selectively flout the law to protect the identities of their political allies.