Trump’s ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Has A Deeply Embarrassing Week

Hans von Spakovsky speaks at the LBJ Presidential Library on November 20, 2014. (Lauren Gerson/LBJ Library via Flickr)

President Donald Trump’s “commission on election integrity,” otherwise known as the “voter fraud” commission, started out with a joke of a mission—proving Trump’s wild and unfounded claims that he actually won the 2016 popular vote because of widespread election fraud. But this week, the commission sunk to a new low after three of its most ideological conservative members proved themselves to be completely uninterested in the truth about elections in deeply embarrassing ways.

It all started last Thursday night, when commission co-chair Kris Kobach published a column in Breitbart—part of his new paid gig with the far-right outlet—claiming that he had found “proof” that a Democratic candidate had won New Hampshire’s 2016 U.S. Senate election only because of a few thousand unauthorized votes from people who didn’t live in the state. Kobach’s claims were quickly and easily debunked, and New Hampshire’s secretary of state himself told Kobach so at Tuesday’s meeting of the commission. Kobach attempted to slightly walk back his claims, while still saying that “we will never know the answer regarding the legitimacy of that particular election” without further research.

Then, on Tuesday, as the commission held its meeting in New Hampshire, the Campaign Legal Center released an email that it had unearthed through a FOIA request showing that an employee of the conservative Heritage Foundation had complained to Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in February that the planned “voter fraud commission” might include Democrats or “mainstream Republicans.” Including people who are not ideological anti-voter-fraud crusaders, the email said, would “guarantee” the commission’s “failure.” It was quickly revealed that the author of the email was Heritage fellow Hans von Spakovsky, now a member of the commission.

When ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman asked von Spakovsky if he was the author of the letter, he denied it. He later explained that he had been tripped up by the question because he hadn’t sent the email to Sessions at all, but had sent it to “private individuals,” one of whom had forwarded it to Sessions’ office.

Then, this morning, commissioner J. Christian Adams decided to come to von Spakovsky’s defense by using his crack investigative skills to perform one search on the Columbia Journalism School’s website and then publicly ask if Huseman was “lying” about her position at the school. Huseman explained that she was not, and Adams deleted the tweet but continued to defend his smear of the journalist:

So, in one week, three members of Trump’s “voter fraud” commission proved in almost comically obvious ways that they are more interested in making a partisan point than in conducting serious research about election integrity.

And that isn’t even mentioning the fact that the commission invited a disgraced gun researcher on Tuesday to propose that the federal government perform background checks on people trying to vote.