The recent death of one member, the child pornography arrest of a key staffer and a blizzard of lawsuits have paralyzed the work of the federal Election Integrity Commission, according to Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who serves on the controversial panel. “There is so much inertia because the powers that be worry about whether there will be a lawsuit in response to whatever we do,” Gardner said during a telephone interview. “They have really tied this commission up pretty well with all the different lawsuits in all kinds of different directions.” But Gardner, a Democrat, said he’s got no evidence to confirm fellow member and Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s claims that some on the commission have been communicating only among themselves.
Last week, Dunlap filed a lawsuit in federal court and charged the group may be guilty of the “kind of one-sided partisan undertaking that the Federal Advisory Committee Act was designed to prohibit.”
“I didn’t know he was going to do that. I knew Matt had sent down a request for information. He must have some reason he thinks there is an improper communication going on, but I don’t have any basis to think that.”
The commission hasn’t met since Sept. 12 when the panel convened at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of St. Anselm College.