Trump voter fraud commission violated federal rules, lawsuit claims

Trump voter fraud commission violated federal rules, lawsuit claims
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President Trump’s voter fraud commission may have violated federal records laws by using personal email accounts to conduct commission work.

The lawsuit brought by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity states that Justice Department attorneys revealed during a Sept. 1 meeting that commission members have been using personal email accounts rather than federal government-issued accounts to conduct commission-related work. The Verge was the first to report on the latest filing.

“Such use of personal email violates the Presidential Records Act (PRA), which Congress amended in 2014 specifically to require that all persons covered by the PRA — including members of this Commission — use official federal government email to conduct government business,” the Lawyer’s Committee argued in a joint status report filed by attorneys for both parties in the suit.

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The Lawyers' Committee, which sued to force the commission to publicly turn over documents relating to the group’s work, said it’s “critically important” the commission “thoroughly search and log any emails from personal accounts used by Commissioners for Commission-related work.”

Justice Department attorneys said the commission does not “recall making any definitive statements as to email addresses being used by non-federal commissioners.”

Trump created the commission by way of an executive order in May to investigate his claims of voter fraud in last year’s presidential election. The group has already faced legal challenges for holding its first meeting in private and for requesting information on registered voters from all 50 states and the District of Columbia without notice.

During arguments in court last week, Justice Department attorneys apologized to a federal judge in D.C. for what was “truly an honest misunderstanding” about what the commission was required to produce in advance of its first meeting, CNN reported.

"It was a chaotic start to the commission," Shapiro reportedly said. "There was a little bit of unknown and a little bit of disorganization in terms of how the meeting would happen."

In a statement, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee, said “the concessions of error further underscores the illegitimacy of this sham commission.

“Despite this admission of its failure to abide by a promise to disclose all relevant records, we intend to continue to challenge this Commission's efforts to promote voter suppression on a national scale," she said.

Last week the court ordered the commission to state what documents it plans to disclose, what steps it's taken to identify documents to collect and potentially disclose, and produce a list of documents that have been collected and of those say which have been disclosed.

As part of the court order, the parties were required to meet and confer on the items the commission is required to produce. The joint status report is a result of that meeting.