New ACLU Suit Challenges Legality of Trump's Election Commission

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s commission on so-called “voter fraud,” arguing the controversial panel has operated under a level of secrecy that violates federal law.

The 15-member commission held a private meeting via telephone on June 28, during which Vice Chairman Kris Kobach announced the group’s plan to request information on all registered voters from the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In its complaint, the ACLU said the private meeting violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which mandates that all advisory committee meetings are open to the public.

“The commission held its first meeting without notice or making it open to the public,” said Theresa Lee, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “This process is cloaked in secrecy, raising serious concerns about its credibility and intent. What are they trying to hide?”

The Commission on Election Integrity was formed by Trump to investigate his claim that millions of undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 election. The theory has been promoted by the president and right-wing news outlets including, despite a lack of credible evidence.

In its suit, the ACLU argued that “the commission was established for the purpose of providing a veneer of legitimacy to President Trump’s false claim that he won the popular vote in the 2016 election—once millions of supposedly illegal votes are subtracted from the count.”

The ACLU also said in its complaint that the commission couldn’t possibly make a fair determination about the validity of the president’s claim, because many of the 15 members have publicly supported it—another violation of FACA.