Former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap asserted Monday that allegations of possible voter and identity fraud made last week by current Secretary of State Charlie Summers were resolved several years ago, shortly after they first surfaced. Dunlap said Summers would have learned that fact had he simply called him before gathering reporters and television cameras last Thursday to announce a broad investigation.
“I wish he had talked to me first,” Dunlap said in an interview Monday. “A little bit of homework prior to the press conference might have canceled the press conference.”
During that event, Summers referenced as the basis for his investigation a July 1 conversation with a Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee who expressed concerns about “noncitizens” trying to register to vote. The employee told Summers that she had brought her concerns to the Secretary of State’s Office under previous administrations and was told to disregard the activity. She also said she was advised to destroy evidence she had collected to support those claims.
Even though Dunlap was not mentioned by Summers specifically, the former secretary recognized the narrative.
Dunlap said he had virtually the same conversation with the same employee in December 2004, about a month before he was officially sworn in as secretary of state.
Here is Dunlap’s version of the events:
The woman, a longtime Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee, came to Dunlap with concerns about identity security. Specifically, she wanted to understand how it was possible for noncitizens or illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. She also wanted to see Maine laws strengthened to guard against it.
Dunlap explained to the woman that there was a clear distinction between state authority and federal authority as it related to identity security, but he encouraged her to keep fighting the issue. The woman’s concerns eventually led to the submission and passage of legislation in 2005 that made it difficult for illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses, but election or voter fraud was never part of that discussion, he said.
“Her concerns had nothing to do with election security. It was about making sure terrorists couldn’t get driver’s licenses or other identification,” Dunlap said.
As for the allegations that the employee was ordered to shred or otherwise destroy documents, Dunlap said the woman had been gathering information from applicants she suspected were illegal and keeping it in hopes that it might prove criminal activity.
Before Dunlap’s election as Secretary of State, the employee was asked to turn over or destroy the information she had collected because she was not authorized to keep it.
After Summers’ announcement last week, Dunlap said he called the Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee directly. She told him that she was upset with Summers’ characterization of her concerns, and that she since has asked Summers to clarify the substance of their conversation. Neither Summers nor Dunlap would identify the employee or say whether she still works at the bureau.