House Dems call for Kobach's removal from voter fraud commission

House Dems call for Kobach's removal from voter fraud commission
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The top Democrats on four key House committees are calling on Vice President Pence to boot Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach off President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE's voter fraud commission and rescind the panel's request for sensitive voter data.

In a Tuesday letter to Pence, Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Portland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee; Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process MORE (D-Md.), the ranking member on the Oversight Committee; Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol Overnight Health Care: Judge blocks Kentucky Medicaid work requirements | Trump officials consider cuts to ObamaCare outreach | House probes HHS office in charge of migrant children Top House Dems request broad investigations into Trump immigration policy MORE (D-Miss.), the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee; and Robert Brady (D-Pa.), the ranking member on the House Administration Committee, allege that Kobach, who serves as the panel's vice chairman, has used his position on the commission to advance his own campaign for governor of Kansas.

"Mr. Kobach has repeatedly claimed, falsely, that widespread voter fraud exists and advertises his work on the Commission to promote his own campaign for governor of Kansas," the lawmakers wrote. 

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"These actions undermine the integrity of the Commission and raise significant concerns that the Commission will be used as a tool for voter suppression."

It also alleges that a June 28 request by Kobach that state election officials provide troves of sensitive information on voters violates federal privacy laws, and it failed to provide a detailed disclosure of how the data would be used and stored.

So far, dozens of secretaries of state have pushed back against that request for information, with some saying that disclosing such data would violate state laws. Others have refused to comply because they say the commission is intended to suppress minority voters and improperly purge state voter rolls.

Among the types of information requested by the panel are names, driver's license numbers and the last four digits of voters' social security numbers. Kobach has defended the request, explaining that the commission only asked for publicly available information. 

Trump tapped Kobach, one of the nation's most ardent advocates for voter identification laws, to serve as the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which the president created to investigate his widely debunked claim that millions of illegal voters cost him the popular vote in the 2016 election.

Less than a month later, Kobach launched a campaign for Kansas governor. 

But in their letter, Conyers, Cummings, Thompson and Brady say that by spotlighting his commission role on his gubernatorial campaign website and during campaign appearances, Kobach is violating a federal election law called the Hatch Act, which bars executive branch employees from using their positions to benefit political campaigns. 

"Mr. Kobach should step down as Vice-Chair and be replaced with an individual who can be trusted to ensure that the Commission operates in a bipartisan manner to protect voter information and to protect the right of Americans to vote," they wrote.