There’s more trouble this week – self-inflicted – for President Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission and its vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), an advocacy group, has asked the Justice Department to investigate a possible violation of federal conflict of interest law by Kobach.
The request grows out of Kobach’s authorship of a column on voter fraud that appeared on the Breitbart News website. CREW alleges that Breitbart, a conservative site run by former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, paid Kobach for the essay and that Kobach’s acceptance of the money conflicts with his responsibilities as a member and vice chairman of the commission.
CREW said federal law bars any “executive branch employee from participating personally and substantially in a particular Government matter that will affect his own financial interests.” The Office of Government Ethics has determined that the ban “applies where any financial interest exists, no matter how small,” the group charged.
Kobach and the commission, which Trump created to bolster his claim that up to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016, are targets of several lawsuits, including one filed by Common Cause in July. The Common Cause suit charges the commission with violating the federal Privacy Act; it grows out of a Kobach-signed request that state election officials supply the commission with a variety of personal information about registered voters.
A series of academic and/or bipartisan reviews of voter fraud claims over the past decade have found only miniscule evidence of any illegal voting. And almost none of those cases involved deliberate efforts to cast illegal votes. Trump has offered no evidence to support his claims about illegal voting in 2016.
The commission also is being sued by one of its own members, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who says he is being denied access to commission documents and communications.
Kobach, who also is running for Kansas governor, is arguably the nation’s most aggressive supporter of election laws that make voting more difficult. He is the author of a state law that requires prospective voters to furnish proof of their U.S. citizenship; a federal court threw out a key section of that law last year, however.
Kobach has defended the law, arguing that “the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.” But over the past three years, his office has secured convictions in only nine cases of alleged voter fraud. Only one of those defendants was a non-citizen.
Issues: Voting and Elections