The request from Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap seemed to be a given for any member of President Trump’s voter fraud commission: He wanted transparency. But Dunlap, among a handful of Democrats on the panel launched by executive order in May with the stated goal of restoring confidence and integrity in the electoral process, said he was denied full access to internal information. So he sued the commission he sits on. On Friday, a federal judge ruled the panel must give Dunlap access to relevant documents in order to allow him to fully participate in the commission’s work. “He has a right to access documents that the commission is considering relying on in the course of developing its final recommendations,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a lengthy opinion.
Last month, Dunlap filed the lawsuit against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, alleging he was being denied access to the commission’s records and effectively frozen out of its activities. He wanted access to, among other things, communications about how to select experts who would testify before the committee and the scheduling of meetings. At the core of his lawsuit, Dunlap argued that the voter fraud commission had run afoul of the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires transparency and balanced membership for government advisory groups.
The commission has convened twice — in Washington, D.C., in July, and in New Hampshire in September — and heard testimony about how to improve the registration and voting process. The panel’s work is expected to be completed sometime next year in the form of a written report.