WASHINGTON — The American Civil
Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit today over the lack of transparency by
President Trump’s election commission.
The lawsuit charges the commission
with failing to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which is
designed to ensure public accountability of all advisory committees.
“The commission held its first
meeting without notice or making it open to the public. This process is cloaked
in secrecy, raising serious concerns about its credibility and intent. What are
they trying to hide?” said Theresa Lee, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting
Federal law requires that commission
meetings be open to the public, with timely notice provided, allowing for
in-person attendance, and that written records be made available to the public.
The commission must also adopt measures to ensure that its work is not
inappropriately influenced by special interests or the president himself.
President Trump lost the popular
vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, yet he promotes the lie that
voter fraud is to blame. Trump in turn created the commission via executive
order. It is led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom the ACLU has
successfully sued numerous times over his voter suppression policies. Kobach
has been roundly criticized for attempting to solicit detailed information on
every registered voter in the United States. He has not divulged how the
commission would use — or protect — that sensitive information, which includes
names, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation, and voting history.
The commission will hold
a July 19 meeting — only available via internet livestream — and has,
by its own admission, held a previous telephonic meeting without notifying the
public, as required by law.
“Our election process must be
secure, fair, and transparent,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, a staff attorney
with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “Yet the commission is conducting its
work deep in the shadows, making it alarmingly suspect. The commission is
legally required to conduct the people’s business in the light of day.”
The case, American Civil
Liberties Union v. Donald Trump, was brought by ACLU National and the ACLU
of the District of Columbia. It was filed in federal district court in
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