TOPEKA — President Donald Trump’s administration is facing three new lawsuits filed Monday in connection with his election integrity commission — two that say the commission is violating federal law by operating opaquely and one that claims the Army is violating voters’ privacy by collecting voter data.
A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Public Citizen says the U.S. Army is violating voters’ privacy by collecting and disseminating voter data requested by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who serves as vice chairman of the commission, asked states late last month to submit detailed voter data to an Army website for the commission to use in its analysis. According to Public Citizen’s filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, so far, Arkansas has submitted data to the commission.
Two more lawsuits filed Monday in the same federal district court by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law claim the commission is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires advisory committees give members of the public notice the group will be meeting.
The Washington-based ACLU’s lawsuit filed Monday in federal district court claims the commission violated the law by not giving the public notice of the commission’s meetings and not supplying documents related to the group’s work. The ACLU’s lawsuit also claims Trump violated the same law by stacking the commission with people who support his belief that millions of illegal ballots cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.
The commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, had a phone call meeting last month that the ACLU lawsuit says was held without public notice.
A group of lawyers based out of D.C. also filed a lawsuit Monday with allegations that the commission violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is suing the commission for holding closed meetings, meeting without notifying the public and failing to provide the lawyers group with documents related to the commission’s upcoming meeting, according to a press release from the committee. The release says the group also will seek a temporary restraining order to force the commission to turn over documents ahead of the upcoming meeting, block the meeting and order that commission meetings be public.
Pence’s counsel, Mark Paoletta, sent state election officials an email asking them to hold off on sending the commission voter data while the district court reviews a separate request for a temporary restraining order, filed in a lawsuit against the commission by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The order still is under review.
The group claims the commission’s collection of voter roll data violates people’s privacy. Kobach last month asked for “publicly available voter roll data,” including registrants’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, party affiliations, partial Social Security numbers and other personal information in order to “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.” Some election officials publicly criticized the request or refused to comply.
Kobach has made combating voter fraud a centerpiece of his work as Kansas secretary of state and has championed strict voting laws, like the state’s requirement that people prove their U.S. citizenship when they register to vote. He supported Trump’s unsubstantiated assertion that millions of people voted illegally last fall. Trump claims those votes cost him the popular vote win in the 2016 presidential election.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also filed a complaint that says Kobach is violating the Hatch Act by using his position on the voting commission to further his campaign for Kansas governor. Kobach announced last month he would run for governor. In Hatch Act violations, government officials can be reprimanded, fined or removed from office, said the group’s president and executive director, Kristen Clarke.
Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter last week said she was sure there was no Hatch Act violation. Kobach’s office did not respond to requests for comment Monday.