Judge Orders Pence-Kobach Commission Email Names Released

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]

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) took the Department of Justice to court to find out which officials were on the email chain that played a major role in the formation of the Pence-Kobach Commission, the partisan effort spearheaded by the White House to search for ways to validate President Trump’s debunked claims about widespread voter fraud. And we won. United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is ordering the government to release the names of three individuals that were selectively redacted by the government in an email released to CLC.

Since unsubstantiated claims about noncitizen voting has continued to pervade popular discourse, CLC is committed to seeing this fight through until the end – and releasing this information to the public, who can be better prepared to defend against voter suppression if they know its source.

In August 2017, CLC received a series of documents in response to a FOIA request regarding the Pence-Kobach Commission. This response contained one particular email chain, which ended up in the private inbox of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, where a Heritage Foundation employee pushed back on naming a single Democrat to the Pence-Kobach Commission. In fact, he asked that no Democrats, academics, or moderate Republicans be appointed to the commission.

The name of the person sending the email, those receiving it (besides the Attorney General), and the names of several people referenced were all redacted. The author of the email was later revealed to be Hans von Spakovsky. A few months later, President Donald Trump appointed Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation to the Pence-Kobach Commission. Von Spakovsky is widely considered one of the architects of the voter fraud myth.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter
Meet the Expert on our FOIA Case
Portrait of Danielle Lang
Senior Director, Voting Rights