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Lawyers for Trump election commission respond to lawsuit

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

December 04. 2017 12:52PM



Attorneys for President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud maintain that Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has no legal right to commission-related documents he is seeking through a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Commission attorneys responded on Friday to a lawsuit filed by Dunlap, aimed at finding out what's been going on with the commission in the months since its September meeting at St. Anselm College.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, also a member of the commission, says he hasn't heard a word from Chairman Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, or any commission staff since the meeting, even though state officials have reached out in an attempt to submit the requested voter data.

In their response to Dunlap's Nov. 9 lawsuit, lawyers for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity argue that the Maine Secretary of State is "seeking judicial micromanagement of the commission's operations through a vague injunction that would frustrate rather than further the public interest."

Gardner says he has no reason to believe some commission members are meeting privately and not sharing information with other members, but Dunlap disagrees.

He asked a federal court for an injunction to force the commission to stop withholding key information, and to release what's been withheld so far.

The commission attorneys claim Dunlap has no proof that any material to which he is entitled has been withheld, writing, "Plaintiff offers no evidence — only speculation — that he has been deprived of materials that have otherwise gone to the rest of the commission."

Even if some materials were generated, and not provided to Dunlap and Gardner (two Democrats on the panel), that wouldn't matter unless the materials were intended for distribution to the full commission, according to the commission response.

"The law does not require the disclosure of documents that were not shared (or intended to be shared) with the committee as a whole," they state. "Plaintiff has not alleged, and could not show, that he has been denied materials used by the commission in formulating its recommendations (of which there are none), nor does he show that he has not received equal treatment alongside his fellow similarly situated commission members. Instead, he seeks special treatment, beyond that accorded other Commission members."

Dunlap is represented by nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight and the law firm of Patterson Belknap, based in New York City.

He is seeking internal emails and documents never provided to the commission members, including discussions about the direction and management of the commission, deliberations over decisions affecting the commission, litigation-related discussions, media and public relations discussions, and emails sent to or from one or more commission members.

Dunlap says emails he has received, public comments made by other members and other information have convinced him that the commission is continuing its work in secret.

"I think there is manifest evidence that people are working and talking to each other," he said. "They're just not talking to all of us."

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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