Michael Bennet, Cory Booker call for audit of White House commission on election fraud

Author: Ernest Luning - September 18, 2017 - Updated: September 19, 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)

Democratic Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced legislation Friday to require a government audit of the White House commission on election fraud, calling the controversial panel a “sham” and charging it was wasting taxpayer money.

“There is simply no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States,” Bennet said in a statement. “The commission is wasting taxpayer money investigating the president’s invented claims about voter fraud, while serious threats like Russian interference in our elections go unaddressed.”

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has been under fire from Democrats and others since President Trump established it in May to investigate his unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016.

The senators submitted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to require the Government Accountability Office’s comptroller general to file a report about the money spent by the commission and the steps it takes to gather, analyze and protect voter information.

“Trump’s election integrity commission is nothing but a sham that is undermining one of our most fundamental of rights – access to the ballot box,” Booker said in a statement. “That’s why we seek to disband the commission. If the President was truly worried about the integrity of our elections he would be more concerned with voter suppression efforts and Russian interference –two threats that pose an actual danger to our electoral process.”

In June, the commission requested state voter registration records considered public, sparking a furious, bipartisan backlash from officials and advocacy groups. By early August when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams turned over the state’s voter records — stressing that it was the same data routinely purchased from his office by campaigns, news organizations and others — more than 5,000 Colorado voters had canceled their voter registration. Bennet cited the statistic when he introduced the amendment calling for an audit.

“This partisan Commission shouldn’t exist in the first place,” Bennet said. “At a minimum, the GAO should audit its activities to ensure it isn’t working to reduce voter participation and that it is using data and facts — rather than conspiracy theories — to inform its conclusions. So far, it has failed on both fronts. This amendment will ensure the commission operates with transparency and accountability, and that voter information is being adequately protected.”

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.