Michael Bennet, fellow Democrats call for investigation into Trump voter fraud commission

Author: Ernest Luning - October 19, 2017 - Updated: October 22, 2017

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet delivers a speech about Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo via YouTube)U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet delivers a speech on the floor of the Senate Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo via YouTube)

Citing concerns about its “partisan motives and actions,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and two of his fellow Democrats on Wednesday called for an independent investigation into the commission on election fraud established by President Trump.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Bennet and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey ask the congressional watchdog agency to examine how much federal money is being spent by the panel and to determine what the commission has been doing about voter participation and how it’s reaching its conclusions.

The lawmakers charge the commission has ignored requests for information from from members of Congress and point to news reports they say “raise questions about the partisan motives and actions of the Commission.” A recent ProPublica investigation, for instance, found that commission co-chair Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, consulted with two Republican voter-integrity advocates who had yet to be named tot he commission before issuing a controversial letter requesting voter data from the states while at the same time excluding a Democratic member of the panel from deliberations.

“Without any (commission) response to Congressional inquires, we fear that the manner in which the (commission) is conducting its work will prevent the public from a full and transparent understanding of the Commission’s conclusions and unnecessarily diminish confidence in our democratic process,” the senators wrote. They ask the GAO to finish its probe within six months of the panel’s termination.

Trump formed the commission in May to investigate his unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election. In June, the commission’s request for publicly available state voter registration records led to a furious backlash and lawsuits from election officials and advocacy groups — and by the time Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams delivered state voter data to the commission in August, more than 5,000 Coloradans had withdrawn their voter registration.

A month ago, calling the commission “nothing but a sham” and alleging it was wasting taxpayer dollars, Bennet and Booker introduced legislation to require an audit of the commission. The two senators have also called for the commission to be disbanded.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.